Law firm handling pinhole leak class action against the city hears from over 1,000 people (2 Photos)


The case could start before a judge this summer.

THUNDER BAY — A spokesperson for the law firm handling a $350 million class action suit against the City of Thunder Bay over pinhole water leaks says every effort will be made to expedite the process.

David O’Connor of Toronto-based Roy O’Connor LLP says he has “no expectation at all that this case is going to take eight or nine years.”

That’s how long a $375 million class action lawsuit over the 2012 flooding of hundreds of basements – involving a different law firm – has taken so far. As yet, no settlement has been announced. 

“Our intention is to push this case forward as soon as we can,” O’Connor told TBNewswatch in an interview. “This is a problem that is significant and very personal to people, and is ongoing. People need relief…so we’re going to try to get it to move quickly.”

He hopes to have a hearing for certification of the suit by a judge sometime this summer.

“Getting to a hearing within six months is actually quite speedy and relatively aggressive,” O’Connor said, adding that he thinks it’s appropriate given the issues people are still experiencing in their homes or businesses.

“It is not a wildly complicated case. We don’t have a million different fact patterns. It appears to be the introduction of a common chemical (sodium hydroxide) into the water supply. That can be analyzed by a court relatively quickly, I would have thought.” 

According to O’Connor, more than 1,000 residents to date have contacted his firm to date to inquire about the lawsuit.

Under Ontario law, every property owner who qualifies for relief under any settlement will be covered by it, and is not required to formally register for participation in the suit.

O’Connor believes the number of people who have an interest in the case “is probably in the thousands.”

The City of Thunder Bay recently filed a Statement of Defence against a separate $350,000 lawsuit filed by St. Joseph’s Care Group for damage allegedly caused by pinhole leaks at the PR Cook apartment building at St. Joseph’s Heritage. 

The city denies that it was negligent in any way in its management of the water system, and argues that in any case SJCG knew that the copper water pipes in its building were old and in need of replacement before any leaks developed.

O’Connor expects the city will present a similar case in the class action suit, but it’s not required to file a statement of defence at this point in the process.

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