Four years after the rupture of the dike that forced the evacuation of 6,000 people in Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-Lac, the request for class action by residents against the City and the Government of Quebec has just been formally authorized and can move forward.

“The judge told us that he endorsed our agreement. This means that the battle begins for compensation. And above all, it means that the City and the government do not dispute that they have a responsibility in this affair “, explained Friday to La Presse Me Gérard Samet, whose firm had taken charge of the request for collective action from 2019, shortly after the fact.

At the time, the stated goal was to obtain $400,000 for each flood-affected victim, of which $50,000 was in punitive damages to compensate for “the violation of their fundamental rights”.

Me Samet does not hide, moreover, that the legal proceedings have been greatly delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. “Today, therefore, I am especially happy that four years after the events, we are finally getting to the heart of the matter,” he adds.

The MRC of Deux-Montagnes will not, however, be included in the class action that will proceed over the next few days, as it is not considered “responsible” or “agent” for the dikes and rivers in the area. Originally, the MRC was included in the class action claim.

Reached by phone, the citizen who originally brought this class action, Richard Lauzon, did not hide his joy on Friday, even if he remains on his guard. “It’s clearly a small victory for us, but nothing is done yet. It just gets started actually,” Mr. Lauzon illustrated.

Aged in his sixties and ex-executive of Bombardier, Richard Lauzon is also one of the victims most strongly affected by the floods of Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-Lac. In 2019, the water had literally stormed his two houses. “I was given $131,000 and something for a two-story house. It’s ridiculous, and I couldn’t even rebuild, “he insists, on the phone.

For the rest, Mr. Lauzon hopes to raise as much money as possible. “We’re going to ask people to determine their prejudices. Each of us has a prejudice that is different. And when we have all the data, then we can start negotiating with insurers and lawyers,” he says.

Four years after the events, there is still no doubt that it was the “complete negligence” of public and political authorities that plunged the population of the small town in the Laurentians into this situation, maintains the resident.

“The City had notified the government of the situation, but they had been nipped in the bud for a year, and nothing had changed. And then there it was, it gave way, ”continues Richard Lauzon, reiterating that the rising waters had been recurrent for more than ten years in the region. “I can understand when floods happen that the government wants to help, but in our case, in Sainte-Marthe, I don’t see why we would pay for negligence,” insists the Quebecer.

In 2019, more than 1,600 claim files sent to the Ministry of Public Security (PSMP) following the floods in Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-Lac, which occurred on April 27 of that year.