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Lac Megantic won't pursue legal action against CP for train disaster

Lac Megantic, Quebec, city officials have decided they will not pursue legal action against Canadian Pacific for the July 2013 crude-oil train disaster that killed 47 people.

The Lac Megantic city council voted Tuesday to drop all possible charges against the Class I, according to a press release posted on the city's website.

The council attributed its decision to several reasons, including the fact that the cost of hiring legal experts over several years would be high and there is no guarantee the city would win, said Mayor Jean-Guy Cloutier.

The decision comes as the community nears the third anniversary of the tragedy, which occurred July 6, 2013, when a runaway train derailed in the city's center. Tank cars that were carrying North Dakota crude oil exploded, causing a massive fire that killed 47 people and destroyed the city's downtown.

The train was owned and operated by the Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway (MMA), not CP. However, CP owned the tracks on which the train was traveling when it left North Dakota. The train had switched onto MMA track when the derailment occurred.

Victims and creditors blamed MMA but also CP, which they allege was negligent in some areas of the disaster, according to a report by The Canadian Press. CP maintains that it was not responsible because the derailment involved MMA trains on MMA-owned track.

The Quebec government has filed a $409 million lawsuit (in Canadian dollars) against CP, and a class action lawsuit has been authorized to proceed, The Canadian Press reported.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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