A $6-million class-action lawsuit pitting northern customers against Bell Mobility started this week in Yellowknife.
The suit, which was originally brought by father and son James and Samuel Anderson of the Northwest Territories almost six years ago, centres on the $9 annual fee that the cellphone provider was charging customers for 911 services. The service doesn’t exist in most communities North of 60.
Because of the small amounts of money, the Andersons petitioned to certify the lawsuit as a class-action lawsuit. It was a move that Bell Mobility fought vigorously against.
The court certified the class action in 2010. In a decision the following year, Justice Ron Veale expanded the scope of the class to include anyone in the three territories who had paid for nonexistent 911 services on their cellphones.
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 outcome of the case.
The suit alleges that almost 30,000 customers were charged for 911 services that were not available in their communities for a period of more than six years.
This is only the second class-action lawsuit that has been brought forward in the N.W.T., which unlike most Canadian jurisdictions, doesn’t have legislation to govern the a class-action proceeding.
The case continues today. (Josh Kerr)