Windsor law firm Strosberg Sasso Sutts LLP filed a statement of claim in Chatham High Court on Friday, claiming a class action against Chatham-Kent Municipal Corporation and HSE Integrated Ltd.
The claims and allegations in the proposed lawsuit have not been argued or proven in court. In order to move forward, the proposed suit must be certified by a judge.
Chatham Kent’s solicitor said the municipality is not in a position to comment, but is focused on getting the scene back to normal. HSE did not respond to a request for comment from CBC News.
Strosberg Sasso Sutts represents six residents and business owners, as well as everyone else affected by the blast on August 26, 2021, claiming it was “negligence caused” by the defendants. The explosion resulted in the destruction of two buildings to the ground and wounding a large number of people in a town about three thousand east of Lymington.
The following is a breakdown of the damages being investigated:
- $60,000,000 in general damages.
- $20,000,000 in special damages.
- $10,000,000 in aggravated damages.
- $10,000,000 in punitive damages.
People just want our town back.
Stephen Ingram, a resident named in the proposed class action lawsuit, said he “lost eight months of his life” after he and his wife Barbara were evacuated from their home near the site of the explosion.
They stayed out of their home until April of this year, he said, and were dealing with up to $30,000 to fix their property, even though their insurance company was involved.
“I think it’s more than a lawsuit,” Ingram said, “I think people just want our town back. That’s the main thing.” “I mean, this isn’t any kind of money grab or money grab…we want things as they were.”
Ingram is critical to the blast’s handling and recovery efforts.
“I feel very strongly about it. … There was pain and anguish, and we’re alright? Fifteen months, and the town looks like a disgrace. Hardly anything has been done in the last three months except to open two roads,” he said.
“Not everyone has gone home by a large margin.”
More needs to be done to prevent the explosion: counsel
According to the statement of claim for the proposed suit, the defendants allege that the municipality and the company were “overbearing, willful, dishonorable, reckless, and brutal, completely without carelessness and gross negligence” in their handling of the explosion and the events surrounding it, and that they “disregarded the safety and rights” of the plaintiffs.
They claimed that the officials were “motivated by economic considerations”, and said those affected deserved compensation.
They claim that prior to the explosion, the municipality or company should have done more to prevent it from occurring on the 15 Erie St. N property, where a gas leak was detected, said Harvey Strosberg, a senior partner at the law firm.
“I was told they didn’t vent the basement, they didn’t cut the electricity, and if you have gas, you must have an ignition source. If there is no spark, there is no explosion,” he told CBC News. . “Why didn’t they cut the electricity and the gas, and blow out the basement? That’s a question we’re asking; we don’t know the answer yet.”
After the blast and eviction, the municipality should have dealt “appropriately” with the properties that were under its control, Strosberg said.
“They should have had a system for checking each property and handling the refrigerator. For example, they haven’t emptied the refrigerators for months. We suggest they take responsibility on that basis as well.”
Earlier this month, the municipality reduced the size of the evacuation zone in downtown Whitley, saying that digging in the area had been completed and they were able to open the road again.
watch | The power of the 2021 explosion that shook Wheatley: