Potential class action lawsuit against the STM

By Katerina Kostopoulos


Many Montrealers rely on the Société de transport de Montréal (STM) on a daily basis to take them to their respective destinations. Unforeseen circumstances causing breakdowns and delays in the STM metro service has led to dissatisfaction throughout the city.

One Montreal woman, Marion Croteau, who paid for two cab rides on separate occasions after a breakdown, hired a lawyer, Michael Simkin, to file a request for a class action lawsuit against the STM before the Quebec Superior Court. Aside from the $70 in cab fees she was required to pay as a result of the breakdowns and delays, the woman is also seeking a 15% reimbursement of her monthly pass. Being in a position to properly represent the class members, Marion Croteau would be appointed as representative plaintiff. Individuals who have been affected by the service interruption, especially during peak hours, causing them to be late for work, school, appointments, etc., are likely to support this class action against the STM as class members.

Considering how many individuals opt for public transportation in Montreal, it cannot be denied that there is a significant number of potential members of the class action group who could benefit from this class action if it is authorized and granted. Although it is unlikely for the members to file independent lawsuits against the STM, collectively, they have a louder voice, which is one of the main advantages of class actions. If this class action is authorized, individuals whom have purchased monthly passes since March 2014, and do not opt out, may be compensated for 15% of each monthly pass. While every individual compensation may not be substantial, this class action in itself, and the publicity it will receive, may serve as an incentive for the STM to develop other solutions. For instance, the STM can ensure that individuals avoid spending money on taxi rides by offering more shuttle buses to transport passengers in proximity of their destinations.

Nevertheless, several obstacles may arise with regards to obtaining compensation. What will members need to prove? How can losses related to service interruptions be evaluated? It is rather difficult to quantify one’s loss caused by breakdowns and delays. Will the inherent costs of our justice system outweigh the compensation that is sought?

Moreover, this is not the first-class action requested against a public transportation organization. In 2009, a class action request had been filed to compensate the Agence métropolitaine de transport (AMT) passengers who experienced delays on the Deux-Montagnes et Vaudreuil-Hudson lines. Interestingly, this case was settled by turning to private dispute prevention and resolution processes. Considering that the new Code of Civil Procedure requires that parties consider private prevention and resolution processes before referring their dispute to the courts, perhaps this will be the path this potential class action against the STM will take as well.

Sources : 
CTV-NewsMontreal GazetteJournal de Montréal.

This content has been updated on March 8, 2017 at 3:14 pm.