Victim’s father files application for $22 million class-action lawsuit after Old Montreal fire

The father of one of the victims of the Old Montreal filed an application on Friday for the authorization of a $22 million class-action lawsuit against, among others, the building’s owner and Airbnb.

Randy Sears, the father of Nathan Sears, a 35-year-old man who died in the March 16 fire that claimed six other lives, is the plaintiff in the case before the Quebec Superior Court.

Flowers and messages are shown at a makeshift memorial near the site of the building, Thursday, March 23, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS

According to the document presented on Friday, the negligence lawsuit targets the owner of the building, Émile Benamor, the owner of the short-term rental units, Tariq Hasan, who listed several units for rent on Airbnb, as well as Airbnb itself.

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Of the seven people who lost their lives, six were staying in short-term rentals without permits.

Click to play video: 'Montreal police confirm last two bodies pulled from ruins of heritage building fire'
Montreal police confirm last two bodies pulled from ruins of heritage building fire

The lawsuit, yet to be authorized, would include family members of the occupants who perished in the fire and anyone who was in the building that day.

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At least 22 people were inside, all of whom likely have family members who were also affected by the events, the document says.

READ MORE: Are Quebec hosts skirting the new rules on Airbnb?

The class action claim seeks $22 million in punitive damages for violating members’ rights to personal safety and dignity under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Mr. Sears is seeking to be the class representative in this matter.

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The last two victims were identified on Tuesday by Coroner Gehane Kamel. They are Charlie Lacroix, 18, and Walid Belkahla, also 18.

In doing so, the bodies of all the victims who perished in the major fire have been removed from the rubble, with the discovery of two new bodies, Monday morning.

READ MORE: Airbnb to pull listings that don’t have proper permits in Quebec

Five victims had previously been formally identified: Nathan Sears, 35 years old, An Wu, Dania Zafar and Saniya Khan, all 31 years old, and Camille Maheux, 76 years old.

In addition to the seven people who died, nine people were injured and taken to hospital and six were unharmed.

Click to play video: 'Fire survivor, housing groups calling for more action against illegal short-term rentals'
Fire survivor, housing groups calling for more action against illegal short-term rentals

Now that the victims have all been accounted for, the investigation will focus on finding the cause and circumstances of the fire.

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Many questions have been raised, including the emergency exits and the lack of windows in some units.

READ MORE: Montrealer feels ‘grateful’ to be alive after surviving deadly heritage building fire

In the wake of the tragedy, Airbnb announced that it would remove illegal listings in Quebec from its site. The Quebec government has pledged to introduce a bill to force other platforms to do the same.

–with files from Alessia Simona Maratta, Global News

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