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Mud Lake lawsuit soon back in court

Mud Lake and Happy Valley-Goose Bay were damaged by flooding recently and many in the community blame the Muskrat Falls project.
The community of Mud Lake was severely damaged by a flood in 2017. - FILE PHOTO

A proposed class action filed against Nalcor Energy and the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador about the Mud Lake flooding in 2017 will soon be back in court.

Maddy Carter, one of the lawyers with Wagner’s Law Firm in Halifax representing the people affected by the flood, said it will be up for certification from April 24-26 and then, if successful, trial.

“A judge is going to be determining whether we meet the class action criteria in the legislation,” she said. “Nothing will be proven in court until after this process.”

Until a class action is certified it can’t go to trial. The suit represents all residents and cabin owners in Mud Lake who were affected by the flooding. Carter said it’s an opt-out process, whereby the firm represents everyone impacted unless they choose to opt out. 

“Right now it’s on behalf of all of the people who owned or who were renting properties affected by the flooding, if we get certified,” she said. “We are having communications with class members but because of the nature of the class action people don’t need to join it.”

A class action can be a lengthy process, Carter said, and so far this one is on track at a normal rate.

The suit alleges the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project caused the flooding that led the emergency evacuation of Mud Lake area and subsequent damage to properties and the actions of government and the Crown corporation in relation to the project constituted unreasonable interference with residents’ property rights and that their actions have been negligent.

Carter told the Labradorian in a previous interview they were approached because they are experienced in environmental class actions. The firm is currently working on a suit in Deer Lake relating to a hydroelectric plant and flooding in the community, so they are familiar with the general issue.

Mud Lake suffered severe flooding in 2017 after an ice jam just downstream forced spring runoff water from the Churchill River into the community. Locals said that while the community has flooded before, they had never experienced anything like that.

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