There continue to be more environmental class actions in Quebec
than anywhere else in the country.
Two new class actions were certified in Quebec last year arising
from disastrous accidents:
In Lessard c. Arcand, 2012 QCCS 275, a claim
was certified for flooding damage in Weedon, Quebec. Residents
claim that their homes were flooded in October of 2005 and 2006 due
to mismanagement by the Quebec Ministry of Environment of a dam
controlling the water level in Lake Louise and three neighboring
rivers. A similar claim against the City of Sherbrooke was not
certified because the necessary notice of claim was not given to
the City on time, as required by the Cities and Towns
In Deraspev.Zinc électrolytique du Canada
ltée, 2012 QCCS 1043, a $900 million class
action was certified against a zinc refinery for a 30 minute spill
of sulphur trioxide on August 9, 2004. Neighbours allege irritation
of their eyes, throat, respiratory passages and skin, coughs and/or
Compensation from old cases
Two others were certified for groups seeking additional
compensation from previous cases:
In Renaudv.Holcim Canada Inc., 2012 QCCS 82, 1300
residents of Beauport are suing Holcim Canada (formerly Ciment
Saint-Laurent) for $10 million, because they were not included in
the $15 million award in Barette v. Ciment
Saint-Laurent ( 3 R.C.S. 392) for dust, odour and noise
from a now-closed cement plant. These residents say they realized
only in 2009 that they were not included in the class of 2000
residents who received compensation in the first action. The Court
certified the new class action on the ground that public notice for
the first class action was insufficient. Each new class
member's knowledge of this notice will have to be determined
through a new trial.
In Comité d'environnement de
Ville-Émard (CEVE)c.Stodola, 2012 QCCS 2550, residents were
authorized to sue the directors of Domfer Poudres
Métalliques inc., hoping to collect the damages the company
was ordered to pay in a 2006 class action judgment for metal powder
pollution (2006 QCCA 1394). Most of the award proved uncollectable
after Domfer declared bankruptcy. The issue is whether dividends of
$14,178,975 granted in 2003 played a role in the 2008
Health and contaminated drinking water?
However, while many environmental class actions are certified in
Quebec, success at trial remains rare. In
Spieserv.Canada, 2007 QCCS 1207,
2012 QCCS 2801, 3500 residents of Shannon, Quebec sued the
Department of National Defence for TCE (trichloroethylene)
contamination of their drinking water wells. TCE was used as a
solvent at the Valcartier military base. DND eventually provided
the residents with a new piped municipal water supply.
The residents claimed that the TCE contamination was responsible
for over 500 cases of cancer, including almost 300 deaths. After a
long trial, the Superior Court judge ruled there was not enough
proof that the TCE caused the cancers or other illnesses. Instead,
the residents were awarded $1,000 for the inconvenience of each
month that they had no domestic water supply, up to
$12,000/person). The class members have commenced an appeal.
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