Nearly two weeks after the Algo Centre Mall collapsed in Elliot Lake, killing two women and injuring several more, plaintiffs are seeking $30-million in a proposed class-action lawsuit.
At the core of the suit is the assertion that the mall was in a poor state of repair long before the collapse.
A statement of claim names several defendants, and alleges that they “knew or ought to have known that the deterioration of the Mall’s structure posed a serious risk to the health and safety of the Plaintiffs and the class.”
The defendants are Eastwood Mall Inc. and mall owner Bob Nazarian, the city of Elliot Lake, and an unnamed engineering firm that allegedly declared the mall’s roof sound in the past year.
None of the allegations have been proven in court.
John and Elaine Quinte, who owned Hungry Jack’s restaurant in the mall, are the lead plaintiffs in the suit.
In a statement released Friday afternoon, Douglas Elliott of Toronto firm Roy, Elliott, O’Connor said the mall collapse was “a preventable tragedy.”
“We believe that there were plenty of warnings about problems with the roof,” Mr. Elliott said.
Mr. Elliott is also calling on Dalton McGuinty to hammer out “a voluntary compensation scheme” with Elliot Lake residents.
Mr. Elliott has also indicated that he will issue a claim against the province at a later date, and called the Ministry of Labour’s inspections of the mall “ineffective.”
In a separate statement, Mr. Quinte says mall management and the city of Elliot Lake failed to take proper action after “a large piece of concrete came crashing through the roof of the Hungry Jack’s Restaurant.”
Meanwhile, the accident site remains the focus of intense scrutiny. Mr. McGuinty has called for a public inquiry, and the coroner’s office, the Ministry of Labour, and the Ontario Provincial Police are carrying out separate investigations.
The lawsuit will not be Mr. Nazarian’s first.
Restaurant owner Anne Marie Letarte alleged in court documents that leaks above her restaurant and food counter at the Algo Centre had caused the ceiling to collapse in 2007 and 2008, eventually forcing her to close her business.