Montreal

Quebec government suing CP Rail for damages in Lac-Mégantic disaster

The Quebec government is suing the Canadian Pacific Railway for $409 million, alleging negligence in the events that led to the 2013 Lac-Mégantic derailment and explosion.

$409M suit claims CP Rail showed negligence by trusting MM&A to move dangerous chemicals

The Quebec government says CP was responsible for the oil being transported on its railways and did not ensure its safety. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

The Quebec government is suing Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) for $409 million in damages as a result of the 2013 tragedy at Lac-Mégantic.

The lawsuit, filed on Friday at Quebec Superior Court, claims CP failed to take the necessary steps to prevent possible damage from the crude oil carried in the cars in case of derailment. It also accuses CP of negligence which aggravated the scale of the tragedy.

Forty-seven people died in Lac-Mégantic after a convoy of 72 tanker cars left unattended rolled down a slope and derailed in the town's centre, causing a series of explosions and fires and leading to widespread devastation.

The train was operated by the defunct Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway (MM&A), but the government claims CP was legally responsible for the crude oil that was being transported from North Dakota to refineries in the east.

The lawsuit contends CP was negligent in entrusting the volatile compounds to MM&A, which, the government claims, had a poor safety record.

CP is the only company named in a class action suit launched by Lac-Mégantic victims which had refused to contribute to a compensation fund reached through an out-of-court settlement – a fund now worth about $452 million.

Last Oct. 13, Superior Court Justice Gaétan Dumas signed off on the final agreement regarding the terms of the fund, after all sides agreed to change some of the language in the terms in order to secure CP's support for the deal.

The new terms of the fund gave certain legal assurance to CP in the event that it was taken to court over its responsibility in the derailment.

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