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Class action certified in Elliot Lake mall roof collapse: Claim of negligent inspection against MOL

On February 13, 2014, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice released its decision in Quinte v. Eastwood Mall and certified a class action against the owners of the Mall, the City of Elliot Lake and the Ontario Ministry of Labour. The action was brought by two business owners in the Mall.

Justice Belobaba defined the class as occupants and their parents, spouses, children and siblings, as well as tenants and those employed by a tenant of the Algo Centre Mall at the time of the Collapse. The Court found that all five criteria under s. 5(1) of the Class Proceedings Act, 1992 had been met to certify the class action.

On June 23, 2012, the Algo Centre Mall’s roof collapsed killing two people and injuring more than 20 others. Reports quickly surfaced that the roof’s steel supporting beams gave way after years of water leakage that had severely corroded the steel welds and connections. Other reports pointed to structural issues that made the roof susceptible to collapse.

Also reported was the numerous complaints that the City and Ministry of Labour officials received about the roof water leakage. The Court certified the action against the owners, the City and the Ministry of Labour. In certifying the action against the Ministry of Labour, the Court determined that the plaintiffs had pleaded the necessary facts to support an allegation of “negligent inspection” against the Ministry. The Court commented at para. 24:

A government body such as the Ministry of Labour that exercises statutory power to conduct safety inspections owes a duty of care to all who may be injured as a result of a negligent inspection. Thus, for example, once the decision to inspect has been made, the court may review the scheme of the inspection to ensure it is reasonable and has been reasonably carried out in light of all the circumstances…”

Within a month of the collapse, the Ontario Government established an Inquiry into the collapse. The Commission is set to release its findings on October 31, 2014.

Meghan Ferguson
Devry Smith Frank LLP

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Meghan Ferguson

General Counsel & Director, Employee Relations at CNIB
Meghan Ferguson is legal counsel for Human Resources, Sales, Finance and Communications.She provides advice for people and transactions. Previous employment:
Kellogg Company, Devry Smith Frank LLP, Hudson's Bay Company, and in the employment standards, labour and health & safety divisions at the Ontario Ministry of Labour. Read more
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