Wheatley, Ont., blast victims seek $100M in damages as Windsor law firm files class action | CBC News

A group of victims of the 2021 Wheatley, Ont., explosion that rocked the small community’s core are seeking millions in damages from the Municipality of Chatham-Kent and a company hired to source a gas leak believed to have caused the explosion. 

Windsor law firm Strosberg Sasso Sutts LLP filed a statement of claim to the Chatham Superior Court of Justice Friday, seeking a class action suit against the plaintiffs — the Corporation of the Municipality of Chatham-Kent and HSE Integrated Ltd.

CBC News is attempting to reach the municipality and the company for comment.

The firm is representing six residents and business owners as well as any others impacted by the Aug. 26, 2021, blast, claiming it “was caused by the negligence” of the defendants. 

The lawsuit is seeking $1 million in damages for properties, business owners and anyone impacted by the blast. 

According to the statement, the defendants allege that the municipality and the company were “high handed, intentional, outrageous, reckless, wanton, entirely without care and grossly negligent” in their handling of the explosion and events around it, adding they “disregarded the safety and rights” of the plaintiffs. 

They allege officials were “motived by economic considerations,” and said the victims deserve to be compensated. 

Harvey Strosberg, a senior partner at the law firm, says that they allege that in advance to the explosion, the municipality or the company should have done more to prevent the explosion at the property of 15 Erie St. N., where a gas leak was detected.

“I was told that they didn’t ventilate the basement, didn’t turn off the power, and if you have gas you have to have a source of ignition. If there’s no spark, there’s no explosion,” he told CBC News. “Why didn’t they turn off the power and gas and vent the basement? That’s a question we ask, we don’t know the answer yet.”

Strosberg says the municipality also should have “properly” dealt with the properties that were under their control, following the explosion and evacuation. 

“They should have had a system to inspect each property and dealt with the refrigerator. They didn’t empty the refrigerators for months, for example. We suggest they were liable on that basis also,” he said. 

Earlier this month, the municipality reduced the size of the evacuation zone in Wheatley’s town centre, saying that drilling in the area is complete and that they were able to open the roadway again.

WATCH | Video shows the Aug. 2021 Wheatley blast: 

Video of Wheatley explosion

Video from security camera footage shows the power of the blast in downtown Wheatley last summer. Submitted by John Urban.

More to come. 

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