Newspaper article The Canadian Press

$77-Million Settlement Proposed for Families of Victims of Lac-Megantic

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

$77-Million Settlement Proposed for Families of Victims of Lac-Megantic

Article excerpt

Lac-Megantic victims could receive cash by August

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MONTREAL - Relatives of people who died as a result of the Lac-Megantic train derailment could receive their share of a $77-million wrongful-death settlement as early as August, says one lawyer.

Creditors and the courts still need to approve the plan before money is disbursed, U.S. attorney Robert Keach said Thursday.

"The hope and the goal is that we would see money in the hands of claimants in August of this year or the latest in early September," said Keach, the court-appointed trustee in the bankruptcy filing of the rail company at the centre of the derailment.

An oil-laden train owned and operated by Montreal Maine and Atlantic Railway derailed and exploded in Lac-Megantic on July 6, 2013, killing 47 people and destroying much of the downtown.

A firefighter who helped pull bodies from the rubble later committed suicide and has been counted among the 48 people whose families will split the $77 million.

The settlement is part of a larger sum of $300 million cobbled together from companies, including Montreal Maine and Atlantic Railway, involved in the derailment.

The lawsuit was filed in Illinois because many of the firms are American and also due to the fact the state has no limits on payouts to victims.

Nearly two dozen companies including oil-exploration firms, tank-car owners, Irving Oil and Montreal Maine and Atlantic Railway agreed to pay the families of victims as well as creditors such as the Quebec and Canadian governments, Lac-Megantic property owners and other people who suffered trauma.

Also listed as a contributor to the $77.2 million is Edward Burkhardt, president and CEO of Rail World Inc., which owned Montreal Maine and Atlantic Railway before its assets were sold.

Keach said Burkhardt has agreed to personally pay money to victims, but confidentiality agreements prohibit the sum being made public. …

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