Railroad won’t face criminal charges in Lac-Mégantic disaster

Written by Railway Age Staff
Lac-Mégantic Montreal Maine & Atlantic Railway

Criminal charges have been dropped against the railroad behind the fiery derailment of a runaway train in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec that killed 47 in 2013.

Quebec’s Director of Criminal and Penal Prosecutions said Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway will not stand trial for criminal negligence causing death in the Lac-Mégantic derailment. The office said it no longer believes there is enough evidence to obtain a guilty verdict against MMA, which operated the train.

Three former MMA employees were earlier acquitted on charges of criminal negligence.

The criminal liability of companies in cases of alleged negligence is based on the behavior of employees, said prosecutor Marie-Ève Phaneuf. “With their verdict, the jurors sent a message that, by their assessment, the company’s agents had not behaved in a manner that markedly deviated from the standard of care that a reasonable person would have adopted under the same circumstances.”

The decision ends criminal proceedings in the disaster of July 6, 2013 when the runaway train derailed, igniting tank cars carrying flammable crude oil and turning the resort village into an inferno.

Six former employees, including the chief executive of MMA, in February pleaded guilty to federal safety and environmental charges and were fined.

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