Defendants deny allegations of wrongdoing in fatal B.C. train derailment lawsuit

Defendants in lawsuits brought by families who lost loved ones in a train derailment in British Columbia deny any wrongdoing in the deaths of three Canadian Pacific Railway employees.

The derailment happened on February 4, 2019, when 99 grain cars and two locomotives fell off a bridge near Field, British Columbia.

The families of two of the slain men filed separate lawsuits in the B.C. Supreme Court last April, alleging negligence against CP, its CEO, board of directors, CP police, Bureau officials of Transportation Safety Canada and the federal Minister of Transport.

Among the victims are conductor Dylan Paradis, engineer Andrew Dockrell and trainee Daniel Waldenberger-Bulmer, all of Calgary, who were in the lead locomotive.

A defense filed on behalf of Canadian Pacific and its senior executives said the actions had “no chance of success” and constituted “an abuse of the process of this court”. He said the plaintiffs’ claims are baseless and inflammatory.

“CP categorically denies being in law, or in fact, responsible for the death of Mr. Paradis as alleged in the notice of civil suit or at all,” reads one of the legal documents filed in May 2021.

“Furthermore, the accusations that anyone at CP acted with the intent to endanger railroad safety or with the intent to injure Mr. Paradis, his family and other CP employees, as alleged throughout in the opinion of civil suit, are not only untrue, but baseless, abusive and unable to be honestly believed by plaintiffs.”

The lawsuits – filed by the families of Paradis and Dockrell – allege that workers were not provided with a safe work environment and that CP failed to follow safety procedures. They also cite the collusion of the railway company’s police forces and the security office in the investigations into the derailment.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

A February 2019 aerial view of the Canadian Pacific Railway derailment site near the Alberta-British Columbia border. (Radio Canada)

A defense filed in January on behalf of the TSB defendants also contests the plaintiffs’ claims. He indicates that TSB officials acted in good faith and without malice during the investigation into the derailment.

The RCMP is continuing its criminal investigation into the derailment.

The attorney representing members of the CP Police Service also flatly denied the allegations, including allegations of a cover-up or interference, in legal documents filed last May.

“The Chiefs deny that after the accident, or generally, any members of the (Canadian Pacific Police Service) assumed, asserted or continued to assume or assert any exclusive jurisdiction to investigate the accident at the exclusion of any independent police body,” he said. .

The findings of the TSB investigation were released last week.

He discovered that old brake cylinders on parked freight cars leaked compressed air and gave way in the extreme cold, allowing the train to start rolling uncontrollably down a steep grade. The report also highlighted systemic safety issues in the rail industry.

Complainant Pam Fraser, Paradis’ mother, said taking legal action against several organizations and individuals involved in the investigation was essential to obtaining justice.

“This thing has become an octopus and there are tentacles coming out of the 301 train disaster in many directions and they’re reaching high and they’re going deep,” Fraser said in an interview with The Canadian Press.

“There are multiple entities that are responsible for everything that led up to this… consideration should be given to each.”

Lawyers representing plaintiffs have released responses to defendants’ defenses and say there are inconsistencies and inadvertent concessions, in addition to gaps in the responses.