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Ruling opens the door for class-action in Mud Lake flooding

Mud Lake and Happy Valley-Goose Bay were damaged by flooding recently and many in the community blame the Muskrat Falls project.
Mud Lake and Happy Valley-Goose Bay were damaged by flooding in May 2017 and many in the community blamed the Muskrat Falls project. - File photo

The Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador on Thursday allowed an application for a proposed class-action against Nalcor Energy and the provincial government associated with flooding of properties at Mud Lake in Labrador in May 2017.
The facts of the case, as outlined in the judgement by Justice Gillian Butler, states that on May 17, 2017, the plaintiff John Cyrille Chiasson, together with his wife, were the occupants of 172 Mud Lake Rd. in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.
Chiasson will act as the representative plaintiff in the class-action.
As background, the decision notes the Churchill River is approximately 856 kilometres in length and flows east from the Smallwood Reservoir in Labrador into the Atlantic Ocean via Lake Melville. 
The community of Mud Lake is located on the south side of the Churchill River downstream of the Muskrat Falls project and access is usually gained by means of boat or snowmobile. 
The area known as “Mud Lake Road” is on the opposite side of the Churchill River. 
“As reported by the hydrometric station at English Point, water levels started increasing in the Churchill River on May 11, 2017. By 3 p.m. on May 16, 2017, one half a kilometre of Mud Lake Road was under water and the province closed the road. By 4 p.m., the province was aware of flooding in the lower elevation area of the community of Mud Lake and that some residents had left their homes. There was also extensive flooding in the vicinity of D’s Landing, being a beach outcropping area of where Hamilton River Road becomes Mud Lake Road. 
“Around this time the province received its first request for evacuation. Power was disconnected to impacted homes on May 16 and 17, 2017, and by 4 p.m. on May 17, 2017, residents of the community of Mud Lake were evacuated by either helicopter or hovercraft to Happy Valley-Goose Bay where a reception centre was established and remained open until May 29, 2017,” the judgement notes.
Information presented to the court indicates that, as of May 20, 2017, 74 people had registered at the reception centre in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. 
Forty-four individuals have contacted Chiasson’s lawyers inquiring about a possible class-action.
Chiasson’s lawyers must now prepare an order certifying the action as a class action with a formal Notice of Certification and the Litigation Plan attached. 
The order shall confirm that Chiasson is a person able to fairly and adequately represent the interests of the class of persons who were owner and non-owner class members as of May 17, 2017.

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