Jan 11/08: Burnaby Residents Set To Sue Over Kinder Morgan Oil Spill ...
More than a dozen Burnaby residents affected by the Trans Mountain
pipeline oil spill are suing the municipality, a local contractor and
the owner of the ruptured pipeline that showered their neighbourhood
with crude oil last summer.
A total of 13 individual writs of summons were filed in B.C. Supreme
Court in late December, naming the city, contractor B. Cusano and
Kinder Morgan Canada as defendants.
All the documents were filed by the Surrey law firm of Carnello & Co.,
an indication that a class-action lawsuit is in the works, Burnaby
Councillor Lee Rankin said.
"It's a precursor, a first step to a class-action lawsuit," said Mr.
Rankin, who is a lawyer. "At some point I would expect an application
to certify these as class action."
Crews working on a municipal storm drain project near Inlet Drive
punctured the pipeline July 24, and the resulting oil spill forced the
evacuation of 31 homes, as an estimated 232,000 litres of shiny, black
crude spewed on nearby houses and into storm sewers draining into
Burrard Inlet. Damage estimates have been difficult to pin down, but
one Burnaby councillor this week suggested the final tab could exceed
Burnaby city solicitor Bruce Rose said the legal filings indicate an
intent to take legal action, but have no statements of claim or
specific damage estimates. Kinder Morgan, which owns the pipeline, has
already paid most of the costs associated with cleanup, repair and
temporarily relocating displaced families, Mr. Rose said.
"I don't really know what losses they've suffered that haven't already
been covered by the cleanup efforts," he said.
Aubrey Street resident Carolina Urbani, whose husband, Claudio, is
named as one of the 13 plaintiffs, said her insurance carrier,
Wawanesa Insurance, filed the writ of summons on the family's behalf.
"It's got nothing to do with us. It's the insurance company," said Ms.
Urbani, whose home was sprayed with crude oil. Ms. Urbani said she has
no complaints about the cleanup efforts so far, but expressed concern
that prolonged legal wrangling could delay remaining work.
"Kinder Morgan has been good to us ... but now things have kind of
stopped and they're all trying to figure out who is responsible and
what everyone's portion of the bill is," she said.
Court documents list Surrey lawyer Marco D. Carnello as legal counsel
for the 13 plaintiffs. However Mr. Carnello referred all questions to
lawyer Adam Roberts, the company partner directly responsible for the
files. Mr. Roberts was unavailable for comment.
Several other plaintiffs either declined comment or didn't return
News of the individual lawsuits comes on the heels of a civil suit
filed by Kinder Morgan against the City of Burnaby, contractor B.
Cusano, an unnamed backhoe operator and R.F. Binnie and Associates,
the firm hired to oversee the botched sewer upgrade.
In a 16-page statement of claim filed Dec. 20, Kinder Morgan blames
the City of Burnaby and its contractors for failing to accurately
identify the location of the underground pipeline prior to excavation.
The municipality is still developing a statement of defence in
response to the recent spate of lawsuits, Mr. Rose said.
The city may launch one or more counterclaims as the matter makes its
way through the courts, he added.