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Sumas Prairie flood lawsuit continues to move toward class action

City of Abbotsford loses bid to appeal decision related to expert files
Sumas Prairie as seen from Highway 1 on Nov. 20, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/Black Press Media)

The City of Abbotsford has lost its bid to appeal a decision related to a lawsuit launched after the November 2021 floods.

The lawsuit was filed by Sumas Prairie residents Caroline Mostertman and Robert Gordon. The pair are seeking to have the case turned into a class action, which requires certification through the courts.

A class action involves several individuals seeking justice for an alleged injury done to them by the same defendant.

Instead of filing multiple individual lawsuits, the claims are consolidated into a single class action.

Mostertman and Gordon started the lawsuit in December 2021 to recoup losses from the city after the Sumas Dike overflowed its banks during the atmospheric river in November of that year.

RELATED: Class-action lawsuit filed to recoup losses from Sumas Prairie flooding in Abbotsford

“In summary, in their claim they say that the defendants knew or ought to have know that the weather would cause the river to overflow, and the dike to fail, harming residents whose property was formerly protected by the dike,” court documents state.

“They plead that, if the defendants had provided a proper warning of the severity of the impending weather events preceding the Sumas Flood, and implemented emergency measures and warnings, the damages suffered by the members of the class would have been prevented or lessened.”

The city has responded that the disaster unfolded so quickly that “no notice could have given the plaintiffs time to take steps to avoid or mitigate their loss,” the documents state.

RELATED: Abbotsford farmer and winery owner shares thoughts on devastating flood losses

As part of their application to certify the lawsuit as a class action, Mostertman and Gordon previously presented affidavits from a climate scientist and an engineer.

The city argued that the plaintiffs did not disclose sufficient information – including the research conducted and the expert’s qualifications – related to those files so that the city could properly evaluate the opinions.

The city applied to receive the experts’ files, but the judge denied the application, saying there was a “sufficient and reasonable amount of disclosure in the reports for city and the court to make its assessments of the experts.”

The city then appealed that decision, but it was recently upheld by the B.C. Court of Appeal.

This now brings the plaintiffs one step closer to having their lawsuit certified as a class action.

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Vikki Hopes

About the Author: Vikki Hopes

I have been a journalist for almost 40 years, and have been at the Abbotsford News since 1991.
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