Robert Kirk and 2,500 other people in the Slocan Valley may not get their day in court after all.
The provincial government has appealed a 2017 Supreme Court of B.C. decision that gave the go-ahead to a class action suit by the Slocan Valley farmer on behalf of all residents affected by pollution from the Lemon Creek fuel spill.
This case is entirely separate from one in which the federal government is prosecuting the fuel company, the province, and the fuel truck driver.
Both cases stem from an incident in 2013 when a tanker truck overturned into Lemon Creek, spilling 33,000 litres of jet fuel.
The case before the B.C. Court of Appeal does not deal with the details of the spill, but rather challenges the court’s decision to allow a class action suit.
In a class action lawsuit, the complainants do not need to be individually signed onto the suit or be named in it. In this case, Kirk is pursuing the case on behalf of everyone who lived in the area that was evacuated after the spill.
The case seeks damages from the four defendants: the provincial government, Transwest Helicopters, fuel truck driver Danny LaSante, and fuel truck owner/contractor Executive Flight Centre.
All four are jointly appealing the decision to allow the class action.
Arguments in the appeal were heard last month in Vancouver, and the judge’s decision will be announced at a later date.
The appellants argued that the 2,500 residents did not meet the definition of an identifiable class and that Kirk did not legally qualify as a representative of that class. They also argued the group’s case does not meet the required definition of issues held in common by members of a class.