Court dismisses proposed class action in Westboro bus crash

·2 min read

A $60-million class action filed in the days after a January 2019 bus crash at Westboro station that killed three people and injured at least 23 others will not go ahead in its current form.

The Ontario Superior Court issued a decision Thursday rejecting the certification of the proposed lawsuit, according to a memo issued late Friday afternoon by City of Ottawa solicitor David White.

The lawsuit had alleged the city was liable for the crash itself, as well as the design and maintenance of the Transitway and its stations. It had been filed along with — as of last week — 17 other individual statements of claim.

The city has already acknowledged its civil responsibility and has paid out more than $5 million in settlements.

"The court took note of the fact that, in its handling of the individual court actions, the city has admitted liability for the losses arising out of the motor vehicle collision," White wrote in his memo to city council and the transit commission.

Not in 'the interests of justice'

In the superior court's dismissal, Justice Calum MacLeod wrote that the proposed lawsuit and its single plaintiff — a passenger who was on board the double-decker bus — did not provide evidence that a class-action proceeding would be "the best vehicle to deter future negligence or to enhance public safety."

The Ottawa Police Service, with help from the Transportation Safety Board, investigated the crash, MacLeod wrote. An inquest and subsequent safety directives from Ontario's Ministry of Transport could also occur, he noted.

"Class proceedings are not to be used to needlessly inflate tragic incidents into public spectacles," MacLeod wrote. "I am not satisfied on the evidence before me that a class proceeding is either necessary or in the interests of justice."

The plaintiff now has until April 23 to either file an individual claim or amend the class-action lawsuit and resubmit it for certification.

As for the City of Ottawa, it would be making submissions to recoup its legal costs, White said.

The eight-week criminal trial of bus driver Aissatou Diallo is still slated to get underway March 22. She faces more than three dozen charges, including three counts of dangerous driving causing death.