Good thing it was in Canada

Last week, BC Ferries proposed to settled a class action lawsuit, brought on by 40 survivors of the Queen of the North sinking.

In a recent blog entry on the Staten Island Ferry, I made a comment that about $54 million dollars was paid out in claims, by the owners, as a result of that terrible accident, which took 11 lives. Taking a very non scientific formula of 1500 people on board at the time, divide by the payment, you end up with about $36,000 per person.

Over in British Columbia, BC Ferries has reached a deal for $354,000, before lawyer and other fees, that works out to be $3575 per person using our formula above. Only 40 persons are eligible for the settlement, so that means $8,850 per person (the settlement varies by individuals – the Province has a good breakdown). That does not include the settlement reached by the families of the two passengers who perish on the Queen of the North, but still, it is pretty obvious that the Canadian court system is considerably different than their US counterparts.

If I would have survived the sinking, I would be very happy to have my life, but to me, it seems like $8850 before lawyers fees, would barely cover my losses. Between my laptop, phone, ipod, personal effects, not to mention my vehicle, the cost of replacing those articles, would be considerably more. Then there is the long lasting effects of nightmares and trauma, or even the real loss of income, during the several days dealing with this. I must admit that I’m not privy to the full information for this case, but damn, those BC Ferries lawyers are good – or the plaintiff’s lawyers were not very well prepared.

This proposed settlement is yet another step towards the end of this affair. There is currently one last big thing to go through now, and that is the criminal trial of the Officer of the Watch, at the time of the sinking. The crown (government) laid charges based on the RCMP’s investigation, and now we await the court proceedings. I don’t suspect you will hear much news, big fireworks to come from this, or to explain what happened, but the affairs drags on, and it seems, only the lawyers are getting happy…

I believe the settlement is not official yet, and may be subject to revision. Regardless BC Ferries is not commenting publicly on the lawsuit in its press releases.

This article has 3 Comments

  1. I agree Canadian society and law have diffenet ideas about settlements, but consider this. Most of the Staten Island ferry passengers did not lose personal effects- but they were injured.
    The Canadians lost their cars and belongings, but these would have been insured by their own insurers, and they would have been reimbursed by now.
    Yes they were traumatized and were resuced, but most without physical injury.
    Therefore the Americans were compensated for injury, the Canadians for inconvenience.
    If you ever read the disclaimers on ferry tickets you would want to be fully insured elsewhere!

  2. A revealing article. You didn't bring up, however, one important point: how much the lawyers got for securing such paltry sums for their clients. Same question applies to the lawyers on the other side.

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