CBC News · Posted: Nov 30, 2015 6:15 PM ET | Last Updated: December 1, 2015
36 lawsuits filed against city include families of all 5 passengers killed 2:15
The City of Ottawa has paid out nearly $2 million to settle six lawsuits related to the fatal September 2013 crash between a double-decker OC Transpo bus and a moving Via Rail train in Barrhaven.
Another 30 lawsuits related to the crash remain unsettled, the city told CBC News in an email.
CBC News has learned that undisclosed settlements were reached with the families of Michael Bleakney, 57, and Rob More, 35, who were both killed in the crash. The plaintiffs in the remaining four lawsuits that have been settled are unknown.
The settlements were reached ahead of the release of the Transportation Safety Board of Canada’s final report on the fatal crash, which is expected on Wednesday.
This composite image shows, clockwise from top left, bus-train crash victims Kyle Nash, Michael Bleakney, bus driver Dave Woodard, Rob More, Karen Krzyzewski and Connor Boyd. (Photos courtesy of Ottawa police/Facebook)
Howard Yegendorf, the lawyer who represented the Bleakney family, said he negotiated a settlement in September after a preliminary TSB report.
“From the report, there was nothing wrong with the train, there was nothing wrong with the crossing, there was nothing wrong with the bus and there was no medical event for the driver. That leaves one irresistible inference and that was driver error,” he said, adding that he expects that Wednesday’s final report will “solidify” the previous findings.
Lawyer Eliane Lachaine, who negotiated a settlement for the More family in October, said Wednesday’s report will be “the last piece of the puzzle” that could help bring closure for families.
The families of passengers Karen Krzyzewski, and Carleton University students Connor Boyd and Kyle Nash — all killed in the crash — also filed lawsuits against the City of Ottawa and Woodard’s estate. At least 27 passengers who survived the crash have also filed lawsuits related to the crash.
Lawyer Howard Yegendorf negotiated a settlement with the City of Ottawa on behalf of the family of Michael Bleakney. Bleakney was killed in the fatal September 2013 bus-train crash in Ottawa. (CBC)
Since the City of Ottawa hired Woodard to drive the bus, Yegendorf said he believes the city is liable for his actions.
“It seems to me, and it has always been my position, that it is the city and the city only at fault,” he said.
City Solicitor Rick O’Connor told CBC News in an email that the 36 lawsuits related to the crash, including the six that have been settled, had claims totaling about $26 million.
He added that “confidentiality prevents the city from disclosing the specific amount of any individual settlement.”
The Bleakney family’s initial statement of claim, filed in January 2014, asked for damages totaling $1.8 million. The More family’s initial statement of claim, filed in March 2014, asked for damages totaling $600,000.