Bell lawsuit spreads to Yukon

Bell Mobility customers in rural Yukon have been added to a class action lawsuit against the telco. The company is being sued for charging northern customers a fee for cellphone 911 services that aren't available.

Bell Mobility customers in rural Yukon have been added to a class action lawsuit against the telco.

The company is being sued for charging northern customers a fee for cellphone 911 services that aren’t available.

Whitehorse is the only northern community that has 911.

Father and son James and Samuel Anderson filed the lawsuit in the Northwest Territories four years ago.

Because of the small amounts involved – $9 annually per customer – the Andersons petitioned to certify the lawsuit as a class action.

Bell Mobility fought vigorously against that.

The court certified the class action a year ago in the Northwest Territories.

And in a decision last week Justice Ron Veale expanded the scope of the class to include anyone in the three territories who had been paying for nonexistent 911 services on their cell phones.

In a separate judgment Veale also awarded the Andersons more than $40,000 to cover some of the expenses incurred in certifying the class action.

Bell Mobility has to pay those costs regardless of the final outcome of the case.

They have 30 days to make the payment.

“It’s not the usual result of a motion in the territory as I understand it, so we’re pleased with that,” said Sam Marr, one of the Anderson’s lawyers.

The original claim was taken out for $6 million, but Marr said that the actual amount would likely be significantly less.

“Part of the problem was we didn’t know how broad the class would be,” he said. “In a class action a lot of the information you need is in the hands of the defendant, and you only get it as you go along.”

Veale’s recent decision set the parameters.

With almost 30,000 customers being charged $9 a year, spread over six years, it works out to less than $2 million.

However they are seeking an additional $1 million in punitive damages.

This is only the second class action lawsuit that has been brought forward in the Northwest Territories.

The NWT has no class proceedings act, unlike most Canadian jurisdictions, said Marr.

“We’re dealing with judge-made law in this area,” he said. “That’s sort of unique.”

Marr called the case “an important consumer issue.”

All Bell Mobility customers that are eligible are automatically included in the lawsuit, unless they choose to opt out.

Current Bell customers will get a notice with their cellphone bill, and the company is also required to issue notices by mail and email to former customers.

There will also be advertisements in local newspapers.

The case is set to go to trial on May 7, 2012.

Contact Josh Kerr at

joshk@yukon-news.com

Just Posted

Northwestel says it is investigating into the cause of the total communications blackout throughout the territory after a power failure in Whitehorse on Wednesday night.
Internet outage prompts criticism on Dempster fibre project delays

The Liberals responded that they have proceeded cautiously to avoid high costs.

A motorcycle with driver pulled over on the right side of the North Klondike Highway whose speed was locked in at 171 kilometres per hour. (Courtesy/Yukon RCMP)
Patrols of Yukon highways find poorly-secured loads, intoxicated drivers

The ongoing patrols which police call ‘Operation Cooridor’ is mainly focused on commercial vehicles.

Awaken Festival organizers Meredith Pritchard, Colin Wolf, Martin Nishikawa inside the Old Firehall in Whitehorse on May 11. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Performing arts fest plans to awaken artistic talent in Whitehorse and the rural North

‘A value of ours is to make theatre as accessible as possible.’

April Mikkelsen tosses a disc during a ladies only disc golf tournament at Solstice DiscGolfPark on May 8. John Tonin/Yukon News
Yukon sees its first-ever women’s disc golf tournament

The Professional Disc Golf Assocation had a global women’s event last weekend. In the Yukon, a women’s only tournament was held for the first time ever.

Dave Blottner, executive director at the Whitehorse Food Bank, said the food bank upped its services because of the pandemic. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Food Bank sees Yukoners’ generosity firsthand

“Businesses didn’t know if they could stay open but they were calling us to make sure we were able to stay open.”

More than 25,000 people have received the firsdt dose of the vaccine, according to the Yukon government. (Black Press file)
Yukon has now vaccinated 76 per cent of eligible adults

The territory has surpassed its goal of 75 per cent as a first step toward ‘herd immunity’

A prescribed burn is seen from the lookout at Range Road and Whistle Bend Way in Whitehorse May 12. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Editorial: Are you ready for a forest fire?

Citizens for a Firesmart Whitehorse have listed some steps for Yukoners to boost safety and awareness

Caribou pass through the Dempster Highway area in their annual migration. A recent decision by the privacy commissioner has recommended the release of some caribou collar re-location data. (Justin Kennedy/Yukon News)
Privacy commissioner recommends release of caribou location data

Department of Environment says consultation with its partners needed before it will consider release

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Family pleased youth will be able to get Pfizer vaccine

Angela Drainville, mother of two, is anxious for a rollout plan to come forward

Safe at home office in Whitehorse on May 10, 2021. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Federal government provides $1.6 million for Yukon anti-homelessness work

Projects including five mobile homes for small communities received funding.

Drilling at Northern Tiger’s 3Ace gold project in 2011. Randi Newton argues that mining in the territory can be reshaped. (Yukon government/file)
Editorial: There’s momentum for mining reform

CPAWS’ Randi Newton argues that the territory’s mining legislations need a substantial overhaul

At its May 10 meeting, Whitehorse city council approved the subdivision for the Kwanlin Dün First Nation’s business park planned in Marwell. (Submitted)
KDFN business park subdivision approved

Will mean more commercial industrial land available in Whitehorse

Most Read