Briskman Briskman & Greenberg Lawyer Remarks on Illinois Wrongful Death Lawsuits Over Canadian Train Crash
Chicago, IL (Law Firm Newswire) October 1, 2013 – At least 12 wrongful death lawsuits have been filed in Illinois over a Quebec, Canada train crash.
The July 6 train derailment in the town of Lac-Megantic resulted in the deaths of 47 people. Seventy-two oil tankers exploded in the crash, creating a wall of fire 12 stories high that destroyed more than 30 buildings and led to the evacuation of the town. Twelve wrongful death lawsuits have been filed in Cook County, with perhaps 30 more expected.
“A wrongful death lawsuit is a way for the families of the victims to gain some compensation for their loss in this horrible accident,” said Paul Greenberg, a wrongful death attorney not involved in the case.
The wrongful death lawsuits named 11 defendants, including Rail World Inc., the company that owned the freight train, and its CEO, Edward Burkhardt. Although the victims are all Canadian, Rail World is based in Cook County, Illinois. The plaintiffs are seeking damages in excess of $1 million for each count of wrongful death.
Also named in the lawsuits is Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway (MMA), a subsidiary of Rail World. In addition to the lawsuits, MMA is facing cleanup demands from the town of Lac-Megantic, and the company filed for bankruptcy in a Maine court, saying that its obligations exceeded its assets, including the expected recovery from insurance policies.
MMA said in its bankruptcy filing that environmental cleanup costs were expected to be more than $194 million. Quebec’s environment minister issued an emergency decontamination order directing the company to clean up the estimated more than 1.5 million gallons of crude oil spilled in the accident.
MMA said that it holds a $25 million liability policy with XL Insurance Co., insuring it against costs such as fire suppression, evacuation, bodily injury, property damage and pollution cleanup. The company said that XL had failed to make any payments, and that the expected liability far exceeds the limits of the policy.
In addition to the wrongful death lawsuits and the cleanup order, MMA is facing a criminal investigation by Canadian authorities. Police searched the Quebec offices of the railway company to collect undisclosed evidence.
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