The effort to launch a class-action lawsuit against Corner Brook Pulp and Paper regarding alleged seepage from the Deer Lake Canal is heading back to the courtroom.
In December 2017, Justice David Hurley of the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador put a virtual halt to the matter when he issued a stay of proceedings in the legal action being pursued by Deer Lake residents claiming their properties were damaged by water seeping from the canal.
The canal is controlled by Corner Brook Pulp and Paper and feeds water to the Deer Lake Power hydroelectric power generating station that provides electricity to the mill in Corner Brook.
In his ruling, Hurley agreed with the paper company’s arguments that legislation dating back to 1915 indicated that each of the plaintiffs needed to first go through an arbitration process individually with the company before their issues could be brought to court.
The plaintiffs have since appealed that decision and, in a decision released this week by the Court of Appeal of Newfoundland and Labrador, Hurley’s decision has been overturned.
The appeal court’s decision determined that the legislation actually provides for the option of either arbitration or court proceedings.
The decision affirmed that the courts can be a more effective option when there are numerous parties interested in litigation, as opposed to dealing with each case on its own. Despite amendments since the original legislation the court ruled none of those changes removed the right to argue disputes in court.
Maddy Carter of Wagner’s Law Firm in Halifax, one of the lawyers representing the plaintiffs, said the appeal decision is the right one and the next step will be to have the class action certified by the courts. She said the parties should get a court date soon to work out the scheduling of going about the certification process.
Kruger Inc., the Montreal-based parent company of Corner Brook Pulp and Paper, would not comment on the decision when contacted Wednesday.