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Lawyer in proposed class action over UBCO excavation says settlement could be large

If the class action is certified, everybody who fits within the definition is automatically included, but have the option to opt out.
UBCO downtown Kelowna construction site with Hadgraft Wilson Place in background.

The lawyer representing a class-action lawsuit filed against the City of Kelowna, UBC Properties Investments and other entities including engineers, builders and architects tells Castanet she believes her clients could be in line to share over a $1-million settlement.

"I can't say too much because the information is privileged and before the court, but we've done our due diligence, and we feel that it's a strong case," said Polina Furtula of Westpoint Lawgroup. 

Furtula says there are well over 100 individuals involved in the class-action lawsuit filed May 3 on behalf of plaintiffs who claim the construction at 550 Doyle Avenue has resulted in personal injury, property damage, business losses, and other costs like food, shelter, pet care, and clothing.

"Their damages include personal injury and general damages, for things like increased rental costs, increased food costs, damage to property. I know in at least one unit a pipe ruptured, because of the way the buildings shifted, and caused a flood that affected several units," the lawyer said.

Furtula says they are also seeking punitive damages "because of the way things developed and the way they handled everything."

The next step in the proceedings will be a certification hearing. Furtula isn't sure how long it will take before the issue moves ahead.

"A judge needs to be appointed to oversee things and a certification hearing, where the court will determine whether this is an appropriate lawsuit to be brought as a class action."

UBC Properties Investments, the city and other defendants have 21 days to file a response from May 3.

"We're negotiating a settlement, we're open to any way that would help these people get back on their feet, whether that's money or an agreement to provide housing. There's a lot of flexibility in this process," Furtula added.

As to how the money will be divided if the suit is successful, Furtula says that has yet to be decided.

"People will have to show what kind of losses they've incurred," he explained.

"In some cases, there is personal injury, I understand some of the tenants at Hadgraft Wilson Place have suffered personal injury, some people have had seizures as a result of the stress of what's been going on and losing their homes and having to move so many times"

Furtula says if the class action is certified, everybody who fits within the definition is automatically included, but have the option to opt out.

"We understand that UBC has made an offer to one person. And we strongly caution anyone who is considering settling, they should speak to me first, or get legal advice. If you settle now, you would lose any chance for any further compensation."

Furtula says her legal team wants to hear from as many people who have been affected as possible, "anyone who has been impacted, we would greatly like to hear from them. They don't have to do anything."

Westpoint Lawgroup can be reached at [email protected].

The City of Kelowna says they have not had time to review the file.

“The City will review the filing with its lawyers when it receives a copy. The City will not be commenting further since the matter is before the courts," the city said in a statement.

UBC Properties Investments did not respond to our request for comment.