Ontario Superior Court approves settlement in a class action over aircraft accident

Aircraft from Toronto made an emergency landing in Guyana, resulting in injuries

Ontario Superior Court approves settlement in a class action over aircraft accident

The Ontario Superior Court of Justice has recently approved the settlement in the class action related to the 2018 incident at an airport in Guyana, where an aircraft’s passengers sustained physical injuries and other losses.

The Fly Jamaica Flight OJ 256 was en route to Toronto Pearson International Airport when it turned back for an emergency landing after developing problems with the plane’s hydraulic system. Upon touching down, the Boeing 757-23N aircraft went off the runway, sustained substantial damage, and passengers suffered physical injuries and other losses.

After years of negotiations, the parties reached a settlement in December 2023, culminating in the execution of a settlement agreement. The defendants have agreed to pay a lump sum of $5,550,000.00 to settle the action, with the settlement funds expected to be delivered to class counsel by March 1.

The settlement agreement covers all legal fees, noticing costs, and claims administration costs, ensuring the class members are adequately compensated. The court noted that no class member has objected to the terms of the settlement agreement.

The class, defined to include passengers aboard Flight OJ256 and family claimants, will receive compensation based on individualized assessments of damages. The court noted that the settlement agreement was designed to leave no class member uncompensated or undercompensated.

The settlement also accounted for seven minor passengers in the class, who are expected to receive settlements ranging from $8,000.00 to $15,000.00. Under the Children’s Law Reform Act, these funds are not required to be paid into court as the total amount is $35,000 or less. The funds may be paid to the child’s parent if the child resides with the parent.

The Ontario Superior Court of Justice explained that the key question in evaluating the merits of a proposed settlement is whether its terms lie within a range of reasonableness. In making this assessment, the court must balance the need to scrutinize the settlement against the recognition that there may be several possible outcomes within the range of reasonableness.

Class counsel emphasized the fairness of the settlement terms, considering factors such as the likelihood of success, extent of investigation, representation by experienced counsel, and the risks associated with airline liability. The proposed settlement, they argued, is within the range of reasonableness.

The court considered the likelihood of success in the action, the extent of the investigation and evidence in the case, the representation of the class by experienced counsel, the likely expense of continued litigation, and the engagement of the parties in good faith, arm’s-length bargaining.

The court concluded that the proposed terms and conditions of the settlement are very reasonable and are in the best interests of the class for the settlement to be approved.

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