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In this July 6, 2013 file photo, smoke rises from railway cars carrying crude oil after derailing in downtown Lac Megantic, Que.

Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press

Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. says it will fight a $409-million lawsuit the province of Quebec has launched over the 2013 Lac-Mégantic oil train explosion that killed 47 people.

The lawsuit filed in Quebec Superior Court alleges CP was negligent in handing over the tank cars to Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway, the now-defunct company that was in possession of the 74-car train left unattended before it rolled into Lac-Mégantic and wiped out much of the town's core. The lawsuit also accuses CP of failing to take steps to prevent the disaster.

"CP intends to fully defend itself in court," a company spokesman said on Monday.

Story continues below advertisement

CP hauled the oil train from its origin in North Dakota to Montreal, where it handed over the cars to MM&A. The train was destined for Irving Oil's refinery in Saint John.

In October, CP dropped its objections to a $446-million compensation fund for victims, allowing the settlements to begin flowing. Of about 24 settling parties, including Irving Oil, CP was the sole company refusing to pay into the fund, a stance that leaves it open to possible future damage claims.

CP has been named in a Quebec class-action lawsuit over the disaster, but says there is no court date in the matter. In addition, the company is facing wrongful death, personal injury and property damage lawsuits in Maine, Texas and Illinois in connection with Lac-Mégantic.

In October, the company said it is too soon to estimate the costs of any potential liabilities stemming from Lac-Mégantic, and that it will "vigorously defend itself in the proceedings and in any proceedings that may be commenced in the future."

The Lac-Mégantic tragedy highlighted the dangers posed by an increasing amount of oil being moved by rail. Regulators responded by imposing speed limits on certain trains, and phasing in rules requiring tank cars to be better built to withstand crashes.

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