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Mourners walk the perimeter of the red zone as rescue workers line the streets following a memorial service to honour the victims of the train derailment in Lac Megantic, Quebec July 27, 2013. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi
Mourners walk the perimeter of the red zone as rescue workers line the streets following a memorial service to honour the victims of the train derailment in Lac Megantic, Quebec July 27, 2013. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi

Lac-Megantic settlement fund ready for distribution

PORTLAND, Maine — The massive settlement fund for the families of 48 people killed in the July 2013 Lac-Megantic oil train explosion has been transferred into a trust and will go to victims’ families early next year.

The bankruptcy trustee for the Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway and the official overseeing bankruptcy proceedings in Canada announced late Tuesday that the settlement is fully funded.

Bernstein Shur, the Portland law firm of the railroad’s U.S. bankruptcy trustee, Bob Keach, said in a news release Tuesday that a fund to settle the wrongful death claims will receive $114 million Canadian this week, from the total settlement fund of $460 million for injury and other damage claims.

The wrongful death settlement fund is equal to $81.9 million U.S. by the current exchange rate; the total fund is $330.4 million U.S.

“We are very pleased that we will be able to fund the trust before the holidays, and that distributions will reach the families as soon as possible next year,” Keach said.

The other settlement funds for personal injury, moral damage and economic and property claims will be distributed in early 2016, managed by the monitor in the Canadian bankruptcy proceeding, Richter Advisory Group Inc.

Families of the wrongful death victims “will soon receive notice” from the trustee managing the wrongful death settlement fund, the statement said, regarding the distributions of those funds.

The fiery crash on the night of July 6, 2013, killed 47 people, and a Canadian judge determined the accident caused another man’s later suicide.

The court-approved settlement for families of the 48 victims calls for compensation ranging from payments of $478,000 Canadian, or 0.43 percent of the settlement, to $5.3 million, or 4.8 percent, based on a point system that factors in the age of the victim, the age of surviving children and spouse and other conditions.

The settlement was funded by 24 defendants, including Shell Oil Co., ConocoPhillips, Irving Oil Ltd., World Fuel Services Corp., insurers and rail car companies.

A Transport Canada investigation found the train’s lone conductor did not set enough handbrakes before leaving the train that night on a hill about 8 miles west of Lac-Megantic.

In related news, First responders often unprepared for derailments.

This article was written by Darren Fishell from Bangor Daily News, Maine and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.