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Toronto judge approves $12M settlement

Dec. 31, 2009, Toronto – A judge has approved a $12 million class-action settlement with 184 passengers of an Air France jet that overran a Pearson airport runway during a driving rainstorm four years ago.


December 31, 2009
By The Canadian Press

Dec. 31, 2009, Toronto – A judge has approved a $12 million class-action settlement with 184 passengers of an Air France jet that overran a Pearson airport runway during a driving rainstorm four years ago.

Air France will pay $10 million plus interest into a settlement fund in exchange for the release of all claims arising from Flight 358.

Airbus S.A.S., manufacturer of the A340 jet, and Goodrich Corp., maker of the emergency evacuation system and slides for the aircraft, will pay $1.65 million into the fund for a similar release of claims.

The settlement is "fair, reasonable'' and in the best interests of the class, Justice Joan Lax said in her judgment, dated Dec. 24 but released in Ontario Superior Court on Wednesday.

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J.J. Camp, of Vancouver-based Camp, Fiorante, Matthews, which is representing the claimants, called it a "good settlement.''

Defendant Nav Canada, which provides air traffic control and navigation services at Pearson, did not settle. Its case is before the courts.

The settlement resolves damage claims for 184 of the 297 passengers, primarily residents of Canada or France, and their family members.

Forty-five other passengers have opted out of the class action and another 68 have already settled with Air France, the judge said.

Flight 358, arriving from Paris, was battered by a violent thunderstorm just as it touched down at Lester B. Pearson International Airport on Aug. 2, 2005. It ran off the rain-slicked
runway and into a ravine, bursting into flames.

Some 60 passengers were forced to jump from the plane due to faulty or damaged  evacuation slides.

All passengers and 12 crew survived, but 33 were taken to hospital. Twenty-three had severe injuries, the judge said.

An independent review indicated that "the vast majority of passengers suffered fright, emotional upset and a fear of flying and a large number have post-traumatic stress disorder,'' Lax said.

The $11.65 million settlement fund will be reduced by $500,000 in legal fees and administration costs.

Camp said a few passengers will get up to $175,000, the maximum allowed, while some may get less than $10,000.