Last month Bell Mobility started its day in court in Yellowknife over a class-action lawsuit related to 911 monthly fees in the Whitehorse area. James Anderson launched the suit–which has about 30,000 people involved–back in 2007, as he argued a 75 cent monthly fee should not be charged to those without 911 service.
According to a ruling made yesterday, the Northwest Territories Supreme Court agreed with Anderson the 911 charges were not justified (via CBC):
On Friday, Justice Ron Veale ruled Bell is liable to nearly 30,000 cellphone users in the N.W.T., Yukon and Nunavut who paid for 911 services they didn’t receive.
Out of the territories only Whitehorse had a 911 operator, whereas other residents had to dial a 10 digit number for emergency services. The lawyer representing the Andersons, Keith Landy says the ruling sets a precedent:
“Cellphone has become a necessity today. And by virtue of them having monthly fees to pay, and then having to pay a charge where the service isn’t provided, is certainly something that needed to be corrected in our view.”
Jason Laszlo from Bell Media Relations, said the ruling goes beyond what he believes the trial was initially about–and the company will appeal the verdict:
“We’re pleased the court ruled in our favour on the main issues certified for trial, and found that Bell Mobility is not required to provide live 911 operators. That is the responsibility of local governments,” he said in an email.
“But we will certainly appeal its decision on a matter that hadn’t even been certified for trial – i.e. whether customers in those areas are exempt from paying the fees charged to all customers nationally.”
The class-action lawsuit affects Bell customers who signed contracts before April 13, 2010 across the North.