2 years after Westboro bus tragedy, city has settled $5M in claims
Bus driver's criminal trial still scheduled for March 22
Two years after a double-decker OC Transpo bus slammed into Westboro station, killing three passengers and injuring scores more, the City of Ottawa says it has paid out more than $5 million to the victims and families who filed lawsuits in the wake of the tragedy.
Judy Booth, Bruce Thomlinson and Anja van Beek died in the crash on Jan. 11, 2019. Other passengers suffered life-altering injuries.
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The City of Ottawa has been served with 18 statements of claim including one class-action lawsuit. The courts have not yet issued a decision on whether that class action should be certified, according to city solicitor David White. Another dozen notices filed could eventually bring the total number of lawsuits against the city to 30.
White said claims involving two of the three deceased passengers have now been settled, and he expects more claims to be settled this year. The city and its insurers have advanced partial payments to some victims who needed the financial assistance, he said.
A year ago, the city formally stated it was civilly responsible for the crash. The focus then shifted to figuring out how much claimants should receive, rather than deliberating over legal responsibility.
"The City and its insurers continue to work diligently to resolve the claims that have been advanced, though there is work yet to be done in this regard," White wrote in an email ahead of the second anniversary of the tragedy.
"The objective is to ensure that the victims and their families are adequately and appropriately compensated."
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As for criminal proceedings, the trial of bus driver Aissatou Diallo remains scheduled for eight weeks beginning March 22. Diallo faces more than three dozen charges including three counts of dangerous driving causing death.
When they announced those charges back in August 2019, police said the City of Ottawa and OC Transpo had been cleared of criminal wrongdoing in the crash.