Yet another class action settlement looks like it will have
unclaimed funds at the end of the claims period. The settlement
between AMT, Montreal's transport agency, and a class
consisting of more than 19,000 commuters from the West Island, was
approved by the Quebec Superior Court last
fall, yet has only resulted in approximately 1,000 applications for a share of the settlement
This class action was commenced in early 2009 on behalf of
commuters from the West Island of Montreal who, during the months
of January and February 2009, were forced to wait for delayed
commuter trains, some of which never arrived. The Quebec Superior
Court approved the out-of-court settlement in
November 2014 wherein eligible commuters would be entitled to claim
a portion of $997,000 in settlement proceeds.
The Claims Process
The claims process was relatively simple, involving signing a
two-page declaration which stated that the claimant was a monthly
train or tram pass holder during the months of January and February
2009 and that they used the trains Monday to Friday during rush
hour. Claimants also had to submit valid proof of identity. The
claims period has been extended from January 20, 2015 to March 20,
2015, as a result of the low response rate. Additionally, claims
forms have been distributed on the commuter lines in addition to
traditional newspaper publication in order to encourage
As we have previously discussed, courts are being increasingly
called upon to decide how to distribute unclaimed funds from class
action settlements. This can naturally lead to a question of
whether the class action vehicle has achieved one of its stated
purposes — that is enabling claimants to receive compensation
where claims are too small to merit individual actions. A low
response rate can call the merits or necessity of the class action
Where class action settlement funds are left unclaimed and there
are no other alternatives, recourse to the Cy-près doctrine
can sometimes assist in distributing the funds. However, it appears
that in the AMT settlement, the court will not need to look to the
Cy-près doctrine to distribute the unclaimed funds since two
non-profit organizations devoted to public transit were also named
as beneficiaries of the settlement by the court and can receive the
residual unclaimed funds. It is unclear whether there is a limit as
to what percentage of the settlement funds these non-profit
organizations can receive.
Class action counsel continue to look for ways to adapt to and
combat low response rates for class action settlements. Increased
use of technology to encourage claims and naming non-profit
entities as beneficiaries of the settlement in the event that
settlement funds remain unclaimed are two such adaptations. Where
claims response rates are low, however, it does beg the question
whether a class action was appropriate in the first place.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.
Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.
It's not often that our little blog intersects with such titanic struggles as the U.S. presidential race – and by using the term "titanic" I certainly don't mean to suggest that anything disastrous is in the future.
J.J. v. C.C., is an interesting case in which the court held that an automotive garage owes a duty to minor children to secure the vehicles on the premises by locking the cars and safely storing the car keys...
In Irwin v. Alberta Veterinary Medical Association, 2015 ABCA 396, the Alberta Court of Appeal found that the "ABVMA" failed to afford procedural fairness to a veterinarian undergoing an incapacity assessment.
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).