News & Reviews News Wire Judge rules Canadian Pacific is not liable in Lac-Mégantic disaster

Judge rules Canadian Pacific is not liable in Lac-Mégantic disaster

By | December 16, 2022

Families of three victims had sued CP, which had handled oil train prior to its handoff to Montreal, Maine & Atlantic

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Fire-damaged town and derailed train
The aftermath of the July 6, 2013, derailment and fire that killed 47 people in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec. Transportation Safety Board of Canada

MONTREAL — A Quebec judge has found that Canadian Pacific is not liable in the 2013 runaway-train disaster that killed 47 people in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec.

The Canadian Press reports that Justice Martin Bureau ruled Wednesday that the actions of which Canadian Pacific was accused were not the “direct, immediate and logical cause” of the July 6, 2013, derailment and fire.

CP was sued by three Lac-Mégantic residents who lost family members in the disaster. They argued that CP knew that train operator Montreal, Maine & Atlantic chose unsafe routes, and that CP misclassified crude oil coming from North Dakota. CP had handed off the train of crude oil to the MM&A in Montreal prior to the disaster.

Bureau said responsibility for the accident rested primarily with the train’s engineer, Thomas Harding, and with the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic. Harding and two other MM&A were tried and found not guilty of all charges relating to the accident in 2018.

Canadian Pacific subsequently ended up owning the line through Lac-Mégantic after the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic went bankrupt. A new railroad, the Central Maine & Quebec, eventually was established to operate the line; CP bought the CM&Q in 2020.

6 thoughts on “Judge rules Canadian Pacific is not liable in Lac-Mégantic disaster

  1. So NO ONE is liable for this? Except a bankrupt and non-existent railroad?

    And the taxpayers will end up footing the bill for the mess and moving the rail line outside the town? Fabulous. As usual, capitalism socialized risk and privatizes profit.

  2. What a bunch of silliness. 47 people died most in a horrible manor. For the love of God, someone here has to be responsible for something.

    The lesson here is that this is what happens when you cut too many employees and eliminate too many back-up or safety systems. But we don’t seem to have learned very much have we?

  3. Canadian Pacific may have carried the train up to Montreal, but it didn’t carry the train through Lac-Megantic, MMA did. MMA’s incorrect repairs done to 5017 the previous year, and MMA’s terrible practices lead to the crash happening.

  4. I think a lot of this decision boils down to there are too many slices of swiss cheese that had to line up for this to happen. The actions of any slice by itself would not have caused the disaster. He also wisely did not put the blame on the first responders who shut down the locomotive (and the only compressor maintaining air in the brake line) in an attempt to stop the fire that had developed.

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