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Residents of Airdrie condo that had fatal CO leak file $16M class-action lawsuit

A class-action lawsuit has been launched on behalf of the residents of the Airdrie condo building that had two serious CO leaks in 2018. Global News

The managers and builder of an Airdrie condo building that had a build-up of carbon monoxide (CO) that left a 12-year-old boy dead and forced people from their homes are being served with a class-action lawsuit.

The residents of the condo building located at 700 Willow Brook Rd., in Airdrie were evacuated from their homes early in the morning on Feb. 4, 2018, after hazardous levels of CO were detected. Trai Schlichter, 12, was taken to hospital in life-threatening condition where he later died.

Days later, the building was evacuated a second time for another CO leak.

It was later determined the leaks were caused by improperly installed water heaters in some units, which were found to be poorly ventilated. Investigators also found the building didn’t have CO detectors.

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WATCH: Family of Airdrie boy who died by CO poisoning speaks about ‘their gorgeous angel in heaven.’ Jill Croteau reports.  

Click to play video: 'Family of Airdrie boy who died by CO poisoning speaks about ‘their gorgeous angel in heaven’'
Family of Airdrie boy who died by CO poisoning speaks about ‘their gorgeous angel in heaven’

The lawsuit names FirstService Residential, the building’s management company, and the builder, CPI Crown Properties International Corporation — also known as Crown Shores — as defendants in the case.

“What happened here is that the builder, in this case, didn’t build this property right,” said Mathew Farrell, a lawyer with Guardian Law Group in Calgary, the firm handling the lawsuit. “They built it in a way that was dangerous.

“Specifically, they put separate instant water heaters in each unit but they didn’t bother to hook a bunch of them up to their respective chimneys, so they were just spewing… carbon monoxide into the building.”

Lawyer Matthew Farrell is representing the dozens of residents that are suing the builder and management company of an Airdrie condo building that was the site of two serious CO leaks. Global News

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of the entire community of residents, owners and tenants in the building, is seeking nearly $16 million in damages in relation to the incidents, claiming that along with the loss of life, the community as a whole suffered loss of wages for time taken off work, loss of income from renters, depreciation of value of their condos as well as incidental costs incurred when they were forced out of their homes.

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The statement of claim, dated April 29, 2019, alleges the defendants failed to communicate the safety issues associated with the installation of a “boiler system which was unsuitable for the type of building in which it was installed” and failed to warn residents about the lack of ventilation as well as the “medical risks associated with having an on-demand hot water heater in each condo unit.”

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None of the allegations have been tested in court.

“There are people who got sick, lost time from work… a bunch of people had to move out of their homes and had a lot of out-of-pocket expenses – had to stay in hotels for a while,” Farrell said.

“A lot of people made repairs on their own or bought their own detectors and other kinds of equipment to make sure they were safe. A lot of people who were renting their units lost tenants. A lot of people selling… were only able to sell them for much less than they otherwise would have.

“All of these problems were caused because the builder didn’t build the property properly and the condominium manager didn’t do anything about the problem when they knew or should have known that it existed.”

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Farrell said condo owners and management companies have a lot of power and with that comes great responsibility, responsibility which he said both companies failed to uphold in the case of the Airdrie building.

WATCH: Mandatory inspections ordered at Airdrie condo where CO leaks happened

Click to play video: 'Mandatory inspections ordered at Airdrie condo where CO leaks happened'
Mandatory inspections ordered at Airdrie condo where CO leaks happened

“These homeowners, they have a right to be safe in their own homes and they’re not in a position to go and check to make sure that the chimney is hooked up themselves and they’re not in a position to make sure that their neighbour’s furnace is hooked up to a chimney and not leaking carbon monoxide into their apartment,” Farrell said.

“They have to rely on this entity, this condominium manager, to do that for them and make sure that they’re OK, that their property’s going to be OK and that their families are going to be OK. And when somebody doesn’t live up to that expectation and it causes real harm, there ought to be some redress for that.”

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In an emailed statement, FirstService Residential said it had not received the statement of claim and therefore could not comment on the lawsuit.

Global News’ attempts to contact Crown Shores for comment did not generate a response by time of publishing. A Google search of the company shows the condo builder is permanently closed, however, a corporate registry search by Global News showed the corporation’s legal entity status was listed as “active” as of Wednesday, May 8, 2019.

The defendants have 20 days to file a statement of defence in the case or otherwise run the risk of losing the lawsuit automatically.

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