Bell Offers $1M to Settle Near Decade-Long Class Action Over 911 Fees
CBC News reports Bell has offered up just over $1 million dollars to settle a class action lawsuit filed against the company from nearly a decade ago.
James Anderson and his son filed the lawsuit back in 2007 against Bell, alleging customers should not be charged 911 fees ($0.75 per month) in areas where the service was non-existent, such as in the Northwest Territories, Nunavut and the Yukon (excluding Whitehorse). The court journey of this class action did not start until six years later in 2013.
Bell fought the case and numerous appeals later, a judge ruled in 2013 the wireless carrier was liable to repay fees. Now, according to court documents, Bell is offering $1,016,336.57 including interest and legal costs to Anderson, who says his lawyers are advising him to accept the offer.
Anderson said “It’s taken a lot longer than it needed to do, although we were in it for the long term.”
The settlement, if accepted would have to be approved in court, with the next hearing set for June 6 in Yellowknife. The settlement also be paid out to the other 25,000 customers part of the class action, who signed a contract with Bell prior to April 13, 2010 in the North. These customers have the option of objecting the offer, or participating in the upcoming approval hearing.
The class action lawsuit originally sought $6 million, but if the $1 million offer was accepted, it would amount to just over $40 per person, not including court costs.
The message here is if you’re ready to go toe-to-toe with a wireless carrier like Bell in court, get ready for a long, drawn out battle. Was all this time and money worth it for Anderson? Yes. According to him, “Had I known that Bell would appeal every step I might have thought differently. But it was the right thing to do.”