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Settlement Agreement reached between VIA Rail Canada Inc. (« VIA ») and Gaétane Cummings

On this page, you will find a brief description of the class action, a question and answers section as well as documents concerning the settlement reached between VIA and Gaétane Cummings regarding the accessibility of VIA trains.The settlement received the Court’s final approval on October 21, 2013.

 

Context

An agreement (the “Settlement”) has been reached between Gaétane Cummings (the “Petitionner”) and VIA, putting an end to the law suit against VIA. On October 21, 2013, the Superior Court of Québec, district of Montreal, authorized the class action on a final basis for settlement purposes, pursuant to the terms of the Settlement Agreement. The Settlement provides that VIA will offer an indemnity to the members of the group. You may receive an indemnity pursuant to the Settlement.

Recent Developments

October 21, 2013: The Superior Court of Québec, district of Montreal, authorized the class action on a final basis for settlement purposes, pursuant to the terms of the Settlement Agreement.

October 16, 2013: The Superior Court of Québec, district of Montreal, heard the Motion requesting authorization of the class action for final settlement approval.

June 20, 2013: The Superior Court of Québec, district of Montreal, authorized the class action on a preliminary basis for settlement purposes and authorized the publication of notices.

Important Dates

  • July 16, 2013: Publication of the Short Form Media Notice.
  • August 15, 2013: Deadline to submit a Request for Exclusion/to Opt Out. The group members who did not exclude themselves or opt out on or before August 15, 2013 will not be able to request exclusion from/to opt out of the class action in connection with this matter.
  • October 7, 2013: Deadline to submit and Objection Form to object to the Settlement. The group members who did not object on or before October 7, 2013 will not be able to do so.
  • October 16, 2013: Hearing date for the final approval of the Settlement, when the Courtdecided whether or not to finally approve the Settlement at a hearing held at the Montreal Court House.
  • October 21, 2013: Date of the Final judgment approving the Settlement
  • February 19, 2014: Deadline for group members to submit a Claim Form [hyperlink towards Claim Forms 1-A and 1-B ] in order to take part in the Settlement.
  • October 21, 2014: Deadline to use the credit for group A members.
  • February 19, 2014: Deadline for group members to submit a Claim Form (Claim Form 1-A or Claim Form 1-B) in order to take part in the Settlement.
  • October 21, 2014: Deadline to use the credit for group A members.
  • The deadline to use the discount for group B members will follow the putting into service by VIA of its Renovated sleeper cars.

    August 18, 2014:

    NOTICE OF THE PUTTING INTO SERVICE OF THE

    RENOVATED SLEEPER CARS

    CLASS ACTION REGARDING THE ACCESSIBILITY OF VIA TRAINS

VIA is pleased to announce that renovated Park sleeper cars with an accessible double sleeping compartment will be put into service on VIA trains travelling between Toronto and Vancouver as of  August 19, 2014.

Members of Group B of the Cummings vs. VIA Rail Canada Inc. class action who submitted a claim within the appropriate time limit may avail themselves of the compensatory discount granted to them pursuant to the settlement agreement reached with VIA and approved by the Superior Court of Quebec.

Thus, members of Group B who submitted a claim have until August 19, 2015 to use their compensatory discount and take a trip between Toronto and Vancouver with at least one night onboard in a renovated Park sleeper car with an accessible double sleeping compartment.

The use of the aforementioned discount is subject to seat availability in accordance with the terms of VIA’s policy entitled Special Needs, that can be found on VIA’s Internet site at /en/travel-info/special-needs and is subject to the provisions stipulated in the settlement agreement that is available on VIA’s Internet site at www.viarail.ca/en/classaction.

Members of the class action must consult VIA’s Internet site.

Documentation

Final Judgment of the Honorable Chantal Masse, J.C.S. of the Superior Court of Québec, district of Montreal PDF logo

 

Settlement Agreement PDF logo

 

Claim Forms

 

Short Form Media Notice (Appendix 3) PDF logo

 

Detailed Notice (Appendix 4) PDF logo

 

Final Approval Notice (Appendix 5) PDF logo

 

Questions and answers

 

General

1. Why does this web page exist?

An agreement was reached and was approved by the Superior Court of Québec, district of Montreal, in connection with a class action instituted by Ms. Gaétane Cummings against VIA Rail Canada Inc. (hereinafter “VIA”). The class action was brought in Québec, but it covers all the members in Canada. The agreement reached and approved between Gaétane Cummings and VIA may concern you. You have rights to take into consideration. This notice explains how the class action works, who is a member of the group, the agreement itself and your rights.

2. What is the purpose of this class action?

Gaétane Cummings instituted a class action against VIA on behalf of all the members in Canada with regard to the accessibility of VIA trains. Gaétane Cummings basically contends that VIA trains and the sleeper cars that form part of them are not accessible for disabled people who permanently rely on a wheelchair for their mobility and, therefore, that VIA would be in default of complying with the obligations imposed on it by law. VIA disputes these contentions.

3. Why a class action?

In a class action, a person referred to as the “representative of the group” institutes legal proceedings in the name of all those who have the same problem and who are referred to as the “group”. Gaétane Cummings represents all the members of the group. The group includes all Canadian residents. A class action enables the court to rule on the issue in dispute for all the members of the group, except for those who elected to be excluded from/to opt out of the group.

4. Why an agreement?

The court did not render a final decision in favour of either Gaétane Cummings or VIA. There was no trial. Instead, both parties reached an agreement to settle the class action once and for all. Gaétane Cummings and her attorney, Mr. Jean Yanakis, feel that the agreement is the best solution for all the members of the group in Canada; which the court did by its judgement of October 21, 2013.

5. Who is a member of the group?

You are a member of the group if you are part of one of the following sub-groups:

Group A: all persons residing in Canada who have a disability and are permanently reliant on a wheelchair for their mobility and who personally purchased a train ticket from VIA for a trip these individuals took between August 31, 2007 and August 31, 2010 between Toronto and Vancouver with at least one night onboard in a rail car with a sleeping compartment used by VIA in trains that namely travel between Toronto and Vancouver (“Sleeper Car”);or

Group B: all persons residing in Canada who have a disability and are permanently reliant on a wheelchair for their mobility, but who are not members of Group A, and who want to travel onboard a VIA train for a trip between Toronto and Vancouver with at least one night onboard in a renovated Park sleeper car, with an accessible double sleeping compartment, in the year following the putting into service by VIA of this renovated sleeper car between Toronto and Vancouver (“Renovated Sleeper Car”), the putting into service by VIA of this Renovated Sleeper Car is scheduled for 2014.

6. Can I intervene in this class action recourse?

No. The deadline to intervene in the class action by way of an objection to the Settlement expired on October 7, 2013.

 

What the agreement grants you

 

7. What does the agreement provide?

VIA grants the following to the members of the group:

  • Group A: members of Group A will receive a credit of 50% of the purchase price for the ticket that they paid, including taxes, for the trip taken between August 31, 2007 and August 31, 2010 between Toronto and Vancouver with at least one night onboard in a Sleeper Car, as defined in Question 5 above. They may use this credit to book one or more train tickets on the VIA network for one or more trips they may take in the year following the court’s final judgment approving the Settlement, therefore before October 21, 2014.
  • Group B: members of Group B will receive a discount of 50% on the lowest purchase price for a VIA train ticket between Toronto and Vancouver, with at least one night onboard in a Renovated Sleeper Car, as defined in Question 5 above. They may use this discount for a trip taken in the year following the putting into service by VIA of these renovated cars scheduled for 2014.
  • Ms. Gaétane Cummings will receive the sum of $1,666.67, including taxes, that is, the sum she disbursed to book her train ticket for a trip between Toronto and Vancouver taken from September 17 to 21, 2009, as well as the sum of $30,000, in capital, interest and costs, for damages that are specific and unique to her and that result from the particular facts outlined in the Settlement.

The use of the aforementioned credit or discount is subject to seat availability in accordance with VIA’s policy entitled Special Needs which is found at  /en/travel-info/special-needs and is subject to the provisions stipulated in the Settlement Agreement.

8. What should you do?

If you are a member of Group A, you must:

  1. 1. Complete Claim Form 1-A to avail yourself of the offered credit;
  2. 2. Attach to the claim form the ticket that you personally booked with VIA for a trip you personally took between August 31, 2007 and August 31, 2010 between  Toronto and Vancouver with at least one night onboard in a sleeper car or proof of purchase of such ticket with sufficient details to show that you did purchase a ticket for the aforementioned trip;
  3. 3. Return Claim Form 1-A and the ticket or proof of purchase of the ticket to VIA before midnight on February 19, 2014.s.

The members of Group A who made a claim will receive an e-mail containing further information about the procedure to claim the credit offered to them.

The credit offered to members of Group A must be used for a trip taken before October 21, 2014.

The use of the credit is subject to seat availability in accordance with VIA’s policy entitled Special Needs which is found at: /en/travel-info/special-needs.

 

If you are a member of Group B, you must:

  1. 1. Complete Claim Form 1-B to avail yourself of the discount that is offered to members of Group B;
  2. 2. Return the claim form to VIA before midnight on February 19, 2014.

The members of Group B who made a claim will receive an e-mail containing further information about the procedure to use the discount that is offered to them as well as the exact date of the putting into service by VIA of its Renovated sleeper cars in the Toronto/Vancouver corridor once this date is determined.

The discount offered to members of Group B must be used in the year following the putting into service by VIA of the Renovated sleeper cars.

The use of the discount is subject to seat availability in accordance with VIA’s policy entitled Special Needs which is found at: /en/travel-info/special-needs.

 

To request exclusion / To opt out

 

The deadline to request exclusion/to opt out expired on August 15, 2013. The members of the group who did not request exclusion or who did not opt out on or before August 15, 2013 can no longer do son.

9. What happens if I do not request exclusion/opt out?

If you do not request exclusion/did not opt out:

  1. 1. You may receive a credit or a discount;
  2. 2. You will be bound by all the orders rendered by the court in this class action;
  3. 3. You have waived your right to sue VIA for any recourse or claim related directly or indirectly to the allegations of the present class action.
 
 

 

Attorneys

 

10. Am I represented by an attorney in this matter?

Yes. Mr. Jean Yanakis represents the members of the group. You can reach him at:

Mr. Jean Yanakis
Attorney
1910, rue Notre Dame
Lavaltrie, Québec J5T 1N1
Telephone no.: 450-586-4905
Facsimile no.: 450-586-5287
E-mail: jeanyanakisavocat@hotmail.com

11. Are there fees to be members of the class action?

Ms. Cummings’ attorney will receive payment of his fees and reimbursement of his expenses. These fees and expenses will be paid by VIA on behalf of the members of the group.

 

Objection to the agreement

 

The deadline to tell the court that you disagree with this agreement expired on October 7, 2013. The group members who did not object on or before October 7, 2013 can no longer do so.

 

Final approval process by the court

 

The court held a hearing to decide if it must approve the agreement.

12. When and where did the court make a decision on the agreement?

The court held a hearing to decide if the agreement is in the interests of the members. The court held this hearing in Montreal, on October 16, 2013, at the Montreal Court House located at 1 Notre-Dame Street East, Montreal, Province of Québec, H2Y 1B6. The court namely determined the fees and expenses to be paid to the group’s attorney.

13. Did I have to attend the hearing?

No. The attorneys answered all the judge’s questions. But you were welcome and could have attended at your own expense.

14. Could I have spoken at the hearing?

You could have attended the hearing and requested permission to address the court. You could also have asked an attorney to represent you, but you were not obliged to do so.

15. When did the court render a decision regarding the Settlement?

The court rendered a decision approving the Settlement on October 21, 2013.

 

For further information

 

16. How can I get further information?

You can obtain a copy of the agreement here:

If you have any questions, you can also call or write to VIA or the applicant’s attorney, Mr. Jean Yanakis:

VIA Rail Canada Inc.
Cummings vs. VIA Rail Class Action
3 Place Ville-Marie, Suite 500
Montreal, Québec  H3B 2C9

Dedicated phone line : 1-855-882-7979
TTY Number:  1-800-268-9503

Mr. Jean Yanakis, Attorney
Cummings vs. VIA Rail Class Action
1910 rue Notre Dame
Lavaltrie, Québec  J5T 1N1

Telephone: 450-586-4905