A Montreal Maine & Atlantic oil train crossing the Richleau River - 18 May 2013 Frank Jolin.
16 July 2013
Suit Claims Railway Cut Corners
to Save Cash
Lake Megantic Quebec - A class-action suit against the rail company whose exploding rail cars devastated the tiny Eastern Townships village of Lake Megantic over a week ago could prove to be one of the largest in Canadian history if Quebec Superior Court gives it the green light.
A team of lawyers, including one affected by the disaster, filed a motion in the Sherbrooke courthouse Monday morning seeking permission to sue the Montreal Maine & Atlantic Railway Inc. (MMA), its affiliates and subsidiaries, as well as its owner, Edward Burkhardt.
Other members of the company are also named in the suit, as is the engineer who parked the train before the fatal explosion, Thomas Harding.
The motion claims that MMA cut costs at the expense of safety and lists 14 actions that those being sued failed or neglected to do.
"In order the keep costs at a minimum and the company profitable, MMA began outfitting its trains with remote control communications technology systems and employing other cost-cutting tactics, such as employee cutbacks, with complete disregard for industry safety and security practices when transporting inherently dangerous goods," the motion states.
The train should have had two conductors rather than one, and that person should have ensured that the train was securely parked for the night on 5 Jul 2013, the motion claims.
Those responsible, says the motion, should have considered the dangers of leaving the train unattended on a slope and the main rail line for an extended period of time.