» Dispute Over Venue for Lac-Megantic Wrongful Death Claims Heats Up

Dispute Over Venue for Lac-Megantic Wrongful Death Claims Heats Up

Chicago, IL (Law Firm Newswire) May 14, 2014 – A federal judge in Portland, Maine recently heard arguments on whether Illinois or Maine will be the proper jurisdiction for a recent, tragic wrongful death case.

Nineteen wrongful death claims have risen from the July 2013 derailment of a Montreal, Maine and Atlantic (MMA) Railway train in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, Canada. The accident resulted in at least 42 deaths.

The trustee overseeing MMA during bankruptcy proceedings moved to transfer the wrongful death cases to Maine. The company hopes to consolidate actions associated with its bankruptcy. 

Attorneys representing the victims' families opposed the motion, in part because Maine has a $500,000 cap on wrongful death damages. Illinois has no such cap.

The wrongful death claims were filed in Illinois, where RailWorld Inc., the company that owned MMA, is based. In some of the suits, MMA was initially named as a defendant, but it was later dropped because bankruptcy law dictates that wrongful death claims associated with a company filing for bankruptcy be handled in the district court where the bankruptcy is handled.

“The dispute over the venue for these cases is not surprising, as so much is at stake,” says Paul Greenberg, a Chicago wrongful death attorney not involved in the case.

Attorneys for the victims' families argued that, because MMA was dropped as a defendant, the lawsuits would not affect MMA's bankruptcy. The trustee for MMA argued that case law supported his position that the wrongful death claims were still related to the bankruptcy and could have an effect on it. By his reasoning, they should be heard in the same district court where the bankruptcy is being handled.

A firm that represents some of the plaintiffs has proposed that former U.S. Senator George J. Mitchell oversee the allocation of available funds from the MMA bankruptcy to the victims' families. MMA's trustee characterized the proposal as a tactic by plaintiffs' attorneys to keep the cases in Illinois with oversight by the former Maine senator.

Fortress Investment Group, a New York investment firm, purchased MMA's assets for $15.85 million at a bankruptcy auction. However, the company's creditors claims they are owed $40 million. Even that figure does not include the wrongful death claims, which are estimated to total approximately $50 million.

Briskman Briskman & Greenberg
351 West Hubbard Street, Ste 810
Chicago, IL 60654
Phone: 312.222.0010
Facebook: Like Us!
Google+ Contact a Chicago personal injury attorney from Briskman Briskman & Greenberg on Google+.

  • Four Killed in Illinois Tractor-Trailer Crash
    On this episode of Chicago Injury Alert, we look at a tractor-trailer accident on an Illinois highway that resulted in four fatalities.
  • Staying safe from winter slip and fall accidents
    Slip and fall accidents can occur throughout the year. However, the snow and ice that comes with winter weather significantly increases the risk of falls. During winter months, strolling down a sidewalk can prove hazardous due to icy pavement. Potholes and cracks, uneven walkways, shrubs and bushes that may seem minor during the summer can ...
  • Air Force veteran dies in fatal hit and run crash in Illinois
    A 93-year-old World War II Air Force veteran was killed in a hit-and-run accident on Interstate 64 near Nashville, Illinois. Ervin H. Goeden was a passenger in a Toyota Avalon that crashed after being hit on the side by a passing vehicle. Goeden’s son Eugene P. Tomasello, 56, was driving the Toyota Avalon when it ...
  • OSHA investigates construction worker’s sewer pipe death
    A construction worker died on the job after firefighters failed to rescue him from a sewer pipe in Streamwood, Illinois. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is investigating the man’s death. Brett Morrow, 22, was installing new sewer lining to prevent leaks when he became trapped in a horizontal pipe measuring 24 inches in ...
  • Teen accused of having meth in his system during fatal motorcycle crash
    A 21-year-old motorcyclist was killed after a teenager from Naperville, Illinois, allegedly hit her as she was traveling through an intersection. Prosecutors accused the 17-year-old boy of having methamphetamine in his body when the accident occurred. He was charged with two counts of aggravated DUI resulting in death. Police said the teen was cited for ...

The Chicago Injury Alert Podcast

See other news sources publishing this article. BETA | Tags: , , , , ,

Get headlines from Law Firm Newswire sent right to your inbox.

* indicates required