PARLIAMENT STREET FIRE CLASS ACTION

NEW: SUPERIOR COURT DECLINES LANDLORD’S REQUEST TO ORDER TENANTS TO SUBMIT TO AN INSPECTION OF THEIR CONTENTS.
 
1.  On August 21, 2018, a fire took place in the apartment building located at 650 Parliament Street in Toronto.

2.  The law firms of Strosberg Sasso Sutts LLP and Charney Lawyers PC commenced a proposed class action on behalf of the tenants of 650 Parliament Street.

3.  The fire caused significant damage to the electrical systems in the building. The residents were evacuated from their apartments and advised that they should expect to be displaced for several months while repairs are undertaken.  

4.  This class action will seek compensation for, among other things, lost use and enjoyment of their apartments and the costs incurred for living expenses. The action also seeks damages for physical and emotional injury, damage to property, costs of cleaning and restoration of contents, relocation expenses such as mileage, food and alternative accommodation and loss of employment income.

5.  If you were affected by the fire at 650 Parliament Street, it is very important for you to keep track of your out of pocket expenses incurred for food, travel, accommodations, purchases for clothes and other necessities.  Please keep all receipts in a secure location because they will be required later.

6.  On November 23, 2018, an urgent motion was brought before the Honourable Mr. Justice Belobaba because we were advised that some of you were being asked to sign a release in exchange for financial assistance and for terminating your tenancy. It was our opinion that you should not sign this release because it gives up any further rights that you have for compensation with respect to the fire and displacement at 650 Parliament. 

7.  As a result of our motion, counsel for the defendants agreed to no longer ask for a release from you in exchange for financial assistance until this matter can be fully argued in court. A copy of the Order dated November 23, 2018 can be viewed here.

8.  If you are asked to sign any waiver of your legal rights in exchange for any form of financial assistance, please let us know immediately. Do not sign any document without reviewing it with our office first.

9. On January 24, 2019, the court heard a motion to determine which firm will have carriage over this matter. On January 28, 2019, the court ruled in favour of Strosberg Sasso Sutts LLP and Charney Lawyers PC. A copy of the Reasons of Justice Belobaba can be viewed here.
 
10. On February 21, 2019, notice was received from Landy Marr Kats LLP that they are seeking the court’s permission to appeal from the decision of Justice Belobaba granting carriage of this action to Strosberg Sasso Sutts LLP and Charney Lawyers PC. Landy Marr Kats LLP is also seeking an order that the appointment of Strosberg Sasso Sutts LLP and Charney Lawyers PC as the lawyers for this action be stayed (put on hold) pending the outcome of the carriage appeal. The practical effect of the order requested will be to delay any steps by counsel to move the lawsuit forward for the benefit of the class members until the court rules on the appeal. The motion for leave to appeal from the decision of Justice Belobaba will be heard by the Divisional Court in writing.
 
11. On June 14, 2019, the court heard the defendants’ motion relating to the Landlord’s request to remove contents from apartments at 650 Parliament Street. The Order can be viewed here and the Reasons can be viewed here.
 
12. On July 17, 2019, the court agreed to permit the removal of the contents from the units, but declined their request to order you to submit to an inspection of your contents.
 
13. Some of the key points in the order include:
    1. The contents of the units will be relocated to the storage area in the basement garage of 650 Parliament by Access Restoration Services;
    2. A relocation plan will be posted on the www.wpsq.ca website, which will specify which floor(s) contents are planned to be moved at least three business days prior to commencement of the relocation;
    3. You will be notified by email, telephone, or regular mail, within two business days of your contents being relocated. You will be advised to notify your insurer of this promptly;
    4. Once you have been notified that your contents have been relocated, you may call the Response Office to make an appointment to inspect and retrieve your contents from the basement storage area. You may book only one appointment per day and per call to the Response Office. There is no limit on the total number of appointments you may book. You will not be required to sign a release or waiver to retrieve your contents from the basement storage;
    5. The defendants will not inspect your contents and will not access your contents, except to assist you in moving your contents to the unpacking/staging area or removing your contents from the storage facility;
    6. The defendants will not engage in settlement discussions with you, including while you attend the basement storage facility, and will not request that you sign a full or partial release of any or all of your claims, either at the storage facility or otherwise; and
    7. You may make an appointment with the Response Office for access to have your contents moved to an independent off-site storage facility, at your own cost, if you choose. You will not be required to sign a release or waiver. Access will be granted within two business days or as scheduled.
 
14.  We will continue to keep you advised as further developments occur.

15. If you are a tenant or an insurer of a tenant who has claimed a loss, please register here.

16. If you would like to know more about how a class action works, please click here.


IMPORTANT NOTICE

This website provides general information to potential class members on a proposed class action commenced against the owners of 650 Parliament Street and others. The court will ultimately decide who will be included as a class member.

The site is not designed to answer questions about your individual situation or entitlement. Do not rely upon the information provided on this website as legal advice in respect of your individual situation nor use it as a substitute for individual legal advice.

This website is updated from time to time to provide class members with further information.

 

REGISTRATION FOR TENANTS
REGISTRATION FOR INSURERS

DETAILS OF THE CONTENTS REMOVAL MOTION

When is the contents removal motion?

The motion regarding the Landlord’s intention to remove contents from the apartments at 650 Parliament Street is taking place on Friday, 14 June 2019 at 10:00 a.m.

 

Where is the contents removal motion?

The motion will be heard at Osgoode Hall, 130 Queen Street West in Courtroom #5.

 

Where can I find the materials in respect of the contents removal motion?

The Defendants’ motion materials are available at https://wpsq.ca/.

The Plaintiffs’ responding motion materials (including responding motion record, factum and brief of written objections or concerns received from tenants of 650 Parliament Street) are available as three documents. Plaintiffs' Responding Motion Record, Brief of Class Members Submissions and Plaintiffs' Factum.

 

Where can I find a copy of the transcript of the cross-examination of Nathan Normoyle, Vice President of Access Restoration Services (ARS)?

The transcript of the cross-examination of Nathan Normoyle, which took place on 11 June 2019, is available here.

 

Can I come to the contents removal motion?

You are welcome to attend the motion.  However, given that space in the courtroom is limited, we note that there may be standing room only.

 

Will my rights in the class action be compromised if I do not come to the contents removal motion?

No.  You are not required to attend at this motion (or any other court proceeding) in order to participate in the proposed class action.

 

If I do attend at the contents removal motion, will I be able to address the court?

There will potentially be an opportunity for tenants of 650 Parliament Street who attend at the motion to address the court.  However, we note that we have gone to great lengths to ensure that the tenants’ objections and concerns regarding (i) the packing of their belongings without their knowledge or consent; and (ii) the adequacy of the basement parking garage as a storage facility, have been brought to the court’s attention – including through the responding motion record, factum and brief of written objections and concerns received by tenants of 650 Parliament Street (all of which is available for your review in Plaintiffs' Responding Motion Record, Brief of Class Members Submissions and Plaintiffs' Factum).  While the judge may ask to hear from you directly, we ask that you try to limit your comments to matters not already addressed by counsel.

 

Can I film or digitally record the contents removal motion?

No.  Filing and digital recording of court proceedings is not permitted.  However, you are permitted to take notes.

 

What matters are being decided at the contents removal motion? 

The ONLY matter to be decided by the judge at the contents removal motion is whether the Defendants will be allowed to move the contents of the apartments at 650 Parliament Street to the underground garage for storage purposes.

 

In your professional experience, do you think that the order sought by the Defendants will be granted?

We anticipate that the motion will be granted subject to conditions.  Put another way, we anticipate that the court will order that the Defendants will be permitted to move the contents of the units at 650 Parliament Street to the garage storage facility, provided that certain conditions are met to ensure the security and safety of the contents.

 

Will the packing of my contents without notice or consent by the ARS at the direction of the Defendants be dealt with at the contents removal motion?

No. While we expect that the entry by ARS into the units of 650 Parliament Street and the packing of contents without the knowledge or consent of the tenants will be raised and discussed at the motion (indeed, the issue was raised in the Plaintiffs’ responding motion materials), the only relief sought on the motion itself is in respect of the Defendants’ request for approval to move the contents of the units to the underground storage facility.

 

WHAT HAPPENS IF THE MOTION IS GRANTED

Where are my contents located now?

The contents of your units were packaged into boxes or wrapped/bagged where appropriate.

 

What will happen if the order sought by the Defendants is granted?

If the order sought by the Defendants is granted, the contents of the units will be moved from the units into the garage storage facility.

 

Will I be forced to make arrangements to inspect my contents and decide what to do with them within 7 days of my contents being secured in the storage facility as set out in Schedule “A” of the Defendants’ Motion Record?

No.  The time available for you to inspect your belongings and decide what to do with them will not be limited.  You will be free to make arrangements to inspect your belonging and decide what to do with them at any time once they are secured in the garage storage facility.  

 

Will I be asked/required to accept compensation offered to me by the Defendants for the contents of my unit?

No.  The Defendants are not permitted to settle with you on an individual basis at this time.   

 

Will I be asked/required to sign the “Acknowledgement and Release” contained at Schedule “B” of the Defendants’ Motion Record?

No.  The Defendants are no longer seeking approval of the release at the contents removal motion.  You will not be asked to sign any release at this time.

 

Why are my contents being stored in a makeshift storage facility and not in an independent self-storage facility?

The nearest independent storage facility capable of accommodating all of the tenants’ belongings is located 47 kilometres from 650 Parliament Street.

 

How long will it take to move all of the tenants’ contents into the basement storage facility?

It will take approximately 8 to 10 weeks to move all the contents of the units into the storage facility.

 

Will I receive my own unit in the garage storage facility?

Each unit will be assigned its own locker.  The lockers are adjustable in size to accommodate the amount of contents from each unit.

 

Is the garage storage facility temperature controlled?

The garage storage facility is not currently temperature controlled; however, the temperature and humidity in the space are monitored on a daily basis.

 

What if the temperature and humidity in the garage storage facility require regulation?

If and when the humidity and temperature in the garage storage facility requires regulation, ARS will install a desiccant dehumidifier with both temperature and humidity control capabilities. Installation of the dehumidifier will take two days and will control temperature and humidity on both levels of the parking garage.

 

Will the garage storage facility be protected from water intrusion and moisture?

Yes.  Protective measures have been put in place to protect against any water intrusion. 

 

Will cars be allowed in the garage storage facility while our contents are being stored there?

No.  Both levels of the parking garage will be used exclusively for tenants’ contents.  No vehicles will be allowed in the parking garage during that time.

 

Will tenants of any other buildings be able to access the garage storage facility at 650 Parliament Street?

No.  A solid barrier will block access to 650 Parliament Street.  Tenants of 280 Parliament Street will have a different entrance for their parking garage.

 

Will other people be able to see the contents of my locker?

No.  Each individual storage unit has non-transparent wall coverings comprised of the same orange poly used to cover the floors and ceilings.

 

Will my contents be placed directly on the floor of the garage storage facility?

No.  Orange poly covering will be placed on the floor to prevent moisture penetration and to provide for a clean surface for the contents.

 

Will my contents be safe in the garage storage facility?

Yes.  The facility is equipped with 12 security cameras on each floor, which will be monitored by security staff located at the top of the main entrance to the parking garage 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.  Further, two guards will be foot patrolling each floor of the garage at all times.

The security company responsible for monitoring the garage is a third party retained by ARS.

 

I notice that the lockers do not reach the ceiling of the parking garage.  Will my boxes and other contents be stacked higher than the locker?

No.  Contents stored in the garage storage facility will be packed no higher than the height of the locker.

 

Where can I find more details about the suitability of the garage storage facility for contents storage?

Please review the transcript from the cross-examination of Nathan Normoyle, available here.

 

WORK BEING DONE IN THE UNITS

What work is being done in the units?

ARS has been retained to restore the units to the condition they were in before the fire.  This includes restoration/reconstruction of the kitchens and bathrooms in the majority of the units, including work in the front hallway and closets, as well as a complete painting of all units.  Some units have damage to the floors; in those units, the floors will be replaced or refurbished to a state similar to how they were before the fire.

 

Has work commenced in the units?

Work in the approximately 130 vacant units commenced in March 2019.

 

Why has work in the remaining units not commenced?

Work in the remaining units has not commenced because the packed contents pose a problem with respect to working in a safe and efficient manner.

 

In what order will the work in the units be done? 

The work will be completed from the top of the building to the bottom of the building.  Units classified as having more severe damage (involving building systems work, such as electrical, mechanical and plumbing components) will be given first priority before units with only aesthetic damage.

 

Will the contents of my unit be moved back upstairs as soon as the work in my unit is complete?

No.  Inspection of the units by civil authorities is required before occupancy can be granted.  The presence of contents in the units may inhibit any inspection required by the building inspector.

RELATED NEWS