Class-Action Lawsuits Move Forward Following Falling Balcony Glass Incidents

An Ontario judge has given the okay for three class action lawsuits stemming from falling balcony glass at three different condominiums in Toronto to go to trial.

The law firms of Sutts, Strosberg LLP and Charney Lawyers have begun trial preparations on behalf of hundreds of frustrated residents in the wake of falling glass incidents at the city’s Murano Towers, Festival Tower and One Bedford developments. The plaintiffs are alleging breach of contract by the developers of the three properties because of the time they were barred from their balconies following the displaced glass panels that fell from their homes onto the streets below, as well as diminished property values as a result of the highly-publicized incidents.

Justice Edward Belobaba of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice certified all three lawsuits on August 21 without determining the merits of each case, meaning they now go forward to trial.

In explaining his decision, Belobaba wrote “the facts in the three actions are similar: newly-built condominium towers occupied by owners and renters. Glass panels suddenly dislodge and fall from several balconies,” according to the Toronto Star. Residents, the judge added, consequently “lose use of their balconies and some common areas for a significant period of time, sustaining general and economic losses.”

Efforts to reach attorneys at either Sutts, Strosberg LLP or Charney Lawyers were unsuccessful on Thursday.

The law firms of Sutts, Strosberg LLP and Charney Lawyers have said that they were “contacted by concerned residents” about the falling glass at the condominiums. Fifteen glass balcony panels shattered at the Murano and Festival Tower condos named in the suits between April and September 2011, ultimately causing the building owners to replace all of the tempered balcony glass with a laminated glass railing.

The Murano suit cites the “Builders” as Lanterra Developments Ltd., developer and general contractor; the balcony railing manufacturer and installer, Toro Aluminum Railings Inc.; and H&R Developments Inc., the developer and contractor. Other defendants include Bay Grenville Properties Ltd., the developer, and architectsAlliance, the project architect.

The Festival Tower complaint cites the “Builder” as the Daniels Corp., the developer and general contractor, as well as Toro Railings and Toro Glasswall Inc., the manufacturers and installers of the balcony railings. Other defendants include developers King and John Festival Corp. and Toronto International Film Festival Developments Inc.; and architects KPMB Design Inc., Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects and Kirkor Atchitects and Planners.

It remains unclear what parties were involved in the building of the One Bedford project.

Efforts to reach officials at the Daniels Corp. for comment were unsuccessful.

Each action seeks general damages in the amount of $15 million, special damages and administrative costs of $4 million and punitive damages of $1 million, as well as interest and costs of the action.

“Our goal is to compensate the class members for the loss of use of their outdoor living space and to motivate the builders to correct the problem as soon as possible,” said Ted Charney of Charney Lawyers, said in a press release at the time.

“Outdoor living space in downtown Toronto sells for a premium and is an integral part of condo life. The developers promoted the sale of these units by emphasizing the sizeable balconies and terraces, but the class members have been unable to use their outdoor living space for over a year with no end in sight,” echoed Sharon Strosberg, a partner of Sutts, Strosberg LLP, in the release.

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