Bell pays out $1M to settle 911 lawsuit, customers to receive ‘less than $100’ each

After about 10 years, the class action lawsuit regarding Bell charging 911 fees in Canada’s three northern territories despite only offering the service in Whitehorse, has finally come to a close.

The plaintiffs, led by father-son duo James and Samuel Anderson, who first filed the suit in 2007, agreed to a pay-out of $1,016,336.57 from the telecom giant. However, not all the cash is going into the pockets of the customer.

According to the CBC, the Andersons will receive $5,000 while all the other customers affected will receive “less than $100.” Curious where all the other money is heading? Well, lawyers. A total of $516,000 is going to Keith Landy, who was the lawyer representing the Andersons.

“I don’t have any question but that [the lawyers] have earned their money in this particular case. It’s been a long slog… The cost to my son and myself was just a cost in time because the lawyers take all the risk in a class action suit. They run the chance of gaining nothing,” said Anderson.

In 2007, James and Samuel Anderson filed a $6 million class action lawsuit against Bell claiming northern customers shouldn’t pay the $9 per year fee when 911 service simply didn’t exist in the territories apart from the city of Whitehorse. Even today, when Bell customers in the area call 911 they are forwarded to a recorded message.

Any Bell Mobility customer in those areas with a contract prior to April 13, 2010 is automatically included in the lawsuit, with the number of plaintiffs estimated at about 20,000.

In 2013, Justice Ron Veal of the Supreme Court of the Northwest Territories ruled that Bell lost the class-action case and was liable to pay out damages to its customers. Bell quickly appealed the decision, saying its contracts are worded in a way that allowed them to collect the monthly fee.

Now that the case is closed, Bell stated, “We’ve reached an agreement that the plaintiffs [the Andersons] consider fair and reasonable.”

Rose Behar contributed to this story

Related reading: Bell offers $1 million to settle 911 class action lawsuit