Bell Offers $1M For 911 Class Action Settlement

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The court case, which has seemed like an eternity to father and son, James and Samuel Anderson – which started almost ten years ago – is finally over and Bell has agreed to pay $1,016,336.57.  This amount includes interest, court costs and the Class Counsel requested that a stipend of $5,000 be paid to the Representative Plaintiffs, and the legal fees will not exceed 40% of the settlement amount.  The fees and stipend will be deducted from the settlement amount before the balance is distributed to Class Members outlined in the agreement.  The Court must approve the settlement before it can become effective.  If the users are in agreement with these terms, they do not have to attend the Settlement Approval Hearing being held on June 6, 2016.  If Class Members do object, they should do so in writing, no later than June 1, 2016.

The case revolves around the fact that Bell is charging their customers $0.75 per month, or $9.00 per year, for 911 service that does not exist in the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and Yukon communities (excluding Whitehorse.)  In fact, if you call 911 even today you will get a recording and must dial a 7-digit local number for emergency services.  The premise was, how can you be charging us $9.00 per year for a service that does not exist.  Bell argued that the agreement was worded that they were entitled to charge the fee whether they provided the service or not.  The second overturning of Bell's appeal was in July 2015 when Justice Jean Côté stated, "In my respectful view, connecting someone to nothing is still nothing… To seek to charge for that by calling it 911 service seems to me very unreasonable. It is like delivering to a starving person a photograph of a turkey dinner, and then charging him or her for a turkey dinner (or delivery of one)."

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James Anderson's lawyers are recommending that they accept the settlement.  He said, "It's taken a lot longer than it needed to do, although we were in it for the long term.  Had I known that Bell would appeal every step I might have thought differently. But it was the right thing to do."  Those that are still with Bell will receive their portion of the settlement by way of credit on their bill, or if the customer has left Bell, a cheque will be sent to their last known address.  Any check not cashed within six months will be paid to the Stanton Territorial Health Authority.