Sunday, March 27, 2011

Québec water case law 18: Authorisation denied for a class action further to rains and sewer backflow


In Côté v. Montréal (Ville de) (in French), the Superior Court must decide whether to authorise a class action on behalf of all the persons having sustained damages further to the heavy rains of 2 August 2008 on the territory serviced by the water works and sewers of Montréal.

The motion to obtain authorisation alleges that the City's sewer system is outdated and inadequate, and that the City failed to take appropriate measures to ensure that flooding and sewer backflow would be avoided.

The Court first provides a brief overview of the principles applicable at the prior authorisation stage (see sections 1002 and ff. Code of Civil Procedure (CCP)).

Then, the Court proceeds to establish that the cumulative conditions required by section 1003 CCP have not been met: although the facts alleged seem to justify the conclusions sought, the recourses of the members of the group do not raise identical, similar or related questions of law or fact, notably because the sewer system is a fragmented patchwork under the responsibility of 19 different sub-municipal authorities and the amount of rain on 2 August 2008 varied significantly over the municipal territory.

Because of this, the Court does not decide whether the representative seeking to obtain the authorisation is in a position to represent the members of the class action adequately. The authorisation is denied.

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