Volume 48, Issue 12- December 2013


Class-Action Lawsuits Move Forward Following Balcony Glass Incident

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.

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

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.

Glove Coaters Inc. Settles in Glass Accident

Glove Coaters Inc. and the man who sued the company for negligence and faulty advertising following a glass-related accident in Texas last year have agreed to settle the case. According to papers filed with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Anthony Lopez, Glove Coaters Inc. and the Michigan-based company’s individual owners have reached “an amicable agreement” that averts the need for further litigationHowever, final terms of the deal have yet to be finalized, says Andrew Dunlap, the Houston-based attorney representing Lopez.

“We’re still trying to formalize a few final things,” says Dunlap, declining further comment. John-Robert Skrabanek, the Austin, Texas-based attorney representing Glove Coaters Inc., could not be reached for comment at press time.

Lopez was in Houston working for Craftsman Fabricated Glass in July 2012 when he claims that he cut his hand on a large piece of glass while wearing gloves made by Glove Coaters Inc. and suffered irreparable injuries.

In a lawsuit filed in February 2013, Lopez alleged that the gloves he was wearing at the time of the accident were “defectively-designed and manufactured and fraudulently marked ‘safety glove’ ” on the company website.

Citing extensive damage from a severed tendon and nerve damage to his dominant hand, he sought damages of “substantially more than $75,000,” according to court documents.

Glove Coaters Inc. and its four individual owners – Gene Tassie, Donald Tassie, Emily Tassie and William Tassie – denied any liability from the outset for what they termed an “unavoidable” accident.

The company tried unsuccessfully to have the case dismissed at the outset, saying that it was Lopez’s employer who was responsible for selecting “appropriate hand protection.”Glove Coaters had been adamant, however, that the gloves were not “in a defective condition or unreasonably dangerous,” according to court papers, and denied that any of Lopez’s injuries were the result of “act of omission” on the company’s part.

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