September 12, 2013

Filing calls for moving all civil claims in train explosion to Maine

By J. Craig Anderson
Staff Writer

The court-appointed trustee for the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway filed a motion Wednesday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court to transfer all 19 pending wrongful-death and accident-injury cases against the railroad to Maine.

In the motion, Robert Keach, a Portland attorney, cited a section of Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code that says civil claims related to a bankruptcy case should be tried in the same district.

The motion says, “Each of the decedents and each of the plaintiffs in the U.S. wrongful death actions is a Canadian citizen or resident. The plaintiffs filed the U.S. wrongful death actions in the Circuit Court for Cook County, Ill.”

Rail World Inc., which is affiliated with Montreal, Maine & Atlantic, is based in Chicago.

George Kurr, a Bangor attorney who is representing the estates of 18 of the 47 victims of the derailment and explosion of a Montreal, Maine & Atlantic train July 6 in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, said it is standard for such cases to be moved to the same jurisdiction as a related bankruptcy.

The Hermon-based railroad filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization about a month after the derailment, citing a drop-off in business and the anticipated costs of compensating victims.

Also Wednesday, one of Montreal, Maine & Atlantic’s creditors, Wheeling & Lake Erie Co., indicated in a court document that it is concerned the railroad will not be able to repay a $6 million line of credit that’s secured by accounts receivable and physical assets.

Wheeling & Lake Erie filed an objection to a motion by the trustee that would alter the lien placed by the company on the railroad’s assets.

The objection said the proposed new lien would not adequately protect Wheeling & Lake Erie’s interests.

– J. Craig Anderson, staff writer

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