The next court date is slated for today (March 11). (Photo by Wesley Tingey on Unsplash)

Court makes a ruling on Kootenay highway acid spills

Justice Riley ruled to let 3 plaintiffs pursue separate claims instead of one joint action

The BC Supreme Court recently made a ruling regarding the 800+ vehicles written-off by three insurance companies after two acid spills occurred on the highway through Trail.

Read more: Court cases in Trail acid spills may take years

Read more: One year later, claims still trickling in

Instead of insurers proceeding as one joint claim against a list of 10 defendants including Teck Metals, International Raw Materials, the regional district and the City of Trail, the courts ruled that each of the parties, or plaintiffs, may now pursue separate claims.

The judgment was handed down in the Vancouver courthouse on Feb. 26 by Justice Riley.

“Many of the vehicles alleged to have been damaged after driving along the affected stretch of road were determined by the plaintiff insurances companies to be total losses,” the document reads.

“Although causation, liability, and the extent of vehicle damage are all live issues between the plaintiffs and various defendants. It is in this context that each of the plaintiff insurance companies seeks a ruling allowing it to proceed with a single action in its own name, in the place of or on behalf of all insured owners whose vehicles were allegedly damaged in the acid spills.”

The insurance companies argued this determination was necessary now, so that all issues pertaining to their capacity to bring these claims, including their ability to claim damages for, or in the place of individual vehicle owners insured by them, are resolved early on in the proceedings.

“This, as the plaintiffs say, will allow the litigation to be focused on the substantive issues of liability, causation, and damages associated with the spills,” the judge states.

Going forward, the ruling allows the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC), Economical Mutual Company, and Intact Insurance Company to proceed with a single action in their own name, or on behalf of insured owners whose vehicles were allegedly damaged in the two acid spills.

The next BC Supreme Court date is scheduled for Wednesday, March 11.

The court lists the defendants as Teck Metals Ltd., Teck Resources Limited, International Raw Materials, Westcan Bulk Transport, the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary, the City of Trail, Her Majesty the Queen in right of the Province of British Columbia as represented by the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure and the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, and two truck drivers.

The two reported acid spills occurred in the spring of 2018.

According to a joint statement from IRM and Teck, approximately 220 litres of sulphuric acid was spilled between 8 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. on April 10, and 70 litres the evening of May 23.

In both cases, the companies have reported that road contamination started at the Rossland Avenue intersection, which is the junction of Highway 3B and Highway 22.

The first spill is reported to have stretched 16-kilometres (km) through Trail and out to the train offload site in Waneta. The May spill is reported to have extended six km, ending near Glenmerry.



newsroom@trailtimes.ca

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