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Schneider fined for 401 crash

TORONTO -- Schneider National must pay $198,000 in damages towards the overall compensation for victims of what has...

TORONTO — Schneider National must pay $198,000 in damages towards the overall compensation for victims of what has come to be known as one of the worst highway collisions in Canadian history.

The Sept. 3, 1999 crash on Highway 401crash occurred in morning fog Sept. 3, 1999 on the westbound 401 outside Windsor. It claimed eight lives. Forty-five people were seriously injured.

Two trucks belonging to Schneider National, based in Green Bay, Wisc., were among the 89 vehicles involved but the company refused to accept any responsibility.

Schneider argued at a hearing in June that the drivers of two transport trucks should be excused from a settlement agreed to by all other parties involved in the crash.

(Sixty-nine of the vehicles in the westbound crash zone agreed to contribute a total of $6 million to save the legal expenses of scores of lawyers becoming involved in dozens of lawsuits which would have taken months to work their way through the courts).

Schneider’s lawyers argued drivers James Nevins and John Adair, both of Ontario, were not at fault and had not contributed to the crash. The drivers took appropriate defensive action by slowing and pulling to the gravel shoulder upon entering the dense fog bank, Schneider’s lawyers said.

But Justice Terry Patterson, of Ontario Superior Court, disagreed.

In a five page ruling released last week, Patterson ruled that the two trucks were involved in the pileup, colliding with each other and possibly one other vehicle before coming to rest on the unpaved shoulder.

“There is no question in my mind that the two Schneider vehicles were part of the chain of events in which they were the cause, with others, of the various accidents and injuries that took place,” he wrote.

Schneider lawyer Jeffrey Goldberg has not yet indicated whether Schneider plans to appeal the decision.

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