Toronto lawyers file class-action lawsuit on behalf of displaced highrise tenants
Published Wednesday, September 5, 2018 2:58PM EDT Last Updated Wednesday, September 5, 2018 7:06PM EDT
A pair of Toronto law firms intends to pursue a class-action lawsuit on behalf of 1,500 residents left homeless after a fire tore through a St. James Town highrise last month.
The building at 650 Parliament was evacuated on Aug. 21 after a major failure in the electrical distribution system sparked a fire and caused thick smoke to billow through the hallways. The blaze ultimately destroyed the system, forcing hundreds of residents to find temporary housing.
While the damage caused by the fire was primarily confined to the south tower, the building’s property manager said it could be months before residents are able to return home. Residents whose units are located in the north tower may be able to return by Thanksgiving.
Lawyers from Strosberg Sasso Sutts LLP and Charney Lawyers PC said that their goal is to obtain compensation for residents for costs incurred by the fallout of the fire.
As part of the class-action, residents may be entitled to compensation for “loss of use and enjoyment of their homes, physical injury including smoke inhalation, emotional injuries, damage to property, costs of repair and cleanup of their property, expenses for mileage, food, and the costs of purchasing new clothing and essentials, costs of obtaining alternative accommodations and lost income.”
“I implore the residents to save their receipts for expenses incurred, record their mileage for extra driving and track days missed from work for the purposes of proving their losses,” Sharon Strosberg of Strosberg Sasso Sutts LLP said in a news release Wednesday.
The lawyers at the helm of the lawsuit have organized a town hall meeting for residents impacted by the fire where they can learn more about the plan. It will take place at Saint Luke’s United Church at 353 Sherbourne Street on Sept. 11 at 6 p.m.
The fight by residents for accountability continues Wednesday evening with a march organized by ACORN members. The group claims displaced tenants and families have been “left with no homes and no answers from property owners” and hope the march will ensure the city and Mayor John Tory “do not forget about them.”
Participants will march from the Regent Park community centre to the Parliament Street building starting at 6:15 p.m.
Meanwhile, management from the building has set up a website and helpline where residents can reach out for help with temporary accommodation.
The building manager, Doug Sartell, told reporters last week that residents looking to terminate their leases can do so at any time. Sartell said tenants who choose to cancel their lease will be partially reimbursed for rent for the weeks they’ve been displaced.