Volume 47, Issue 5 - May 2012

GlobalUpdate


Residents of Toronto Condos File Class Action Suits over Falling Glass
Two class actions lawsuits were filed in March in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice on behalf of the owners and renters of condominiums located in Toronto’s Murano Towers and Festival Tower over last summer’s spate of broken glass balcony railings.

The law firms of Sutts, Strosberg LLP and Falconer Charney LLP report that they were “contacted by concerned residents” about the falling glass at the condominiums. Fifteen glass balcony panels shattered at the condos named in the suits between April and September 2011, ultimately causing the building owners to replace all of the tempered balcony glass with a laminated glass railing. The plaintiffs in both actions allege that the defendants are responsible for the lost use of their balconies.

Both suits seek, among other things, “a declaration that the builders were negligent in the design, installation and manufacturing of the glass paneling and are liable in damages” and “a declaration that the falling glass constituted a nuisance.” The Murano suit cites the “builders” as Lanterra Developments Ltd., developer and general contractor; the balcony railing manufacturer and installer, Toro Aluminum Railings Inc.; and H&R Developments Inc., the developer and contractor. Other defendants include Bay Grenville Properties Ltd., the developer, and Architects Alliance, the project architect.

The Festival Tower suit cites the “builder” as the Daniels Corp., the developer and general contractor, as well as Toro Railings and Toro Glasswall Inc., the manufacturers and installers of the balcony railings. Other defendants include developers King and John Festival Corp. and Toronto International Film Festival Developments Inc.; and architects KPMB Design Inc., Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects and Kirkor Atchitects and Planners.

Each action seeks general damages in the amount of $15 million, special damages and administrative costs of $4 million and punitive damages of $1 million, as well as interest and costs of the action.

“Our goal is to compensate the class members for the loss of use of their outdoor living space and to motivate the builders to correct the problem as soon as possible,” says Ted Charney, a partner of Falconer Charney LLP..

“Outdoor living space in downtown Toronto sells for a premium and is an integral part of condo life. The developers promoted the sale of these units by emphasizing the sizeable balconies and terraces, but the class members have been unable to use their outdoor living space for over a year with no end in sight,” adds Sharon Strosberg, a partner of Sutts, Strosberg LLP.

Toro had not responded to requests for comment as of press time.

Glass Companies Join U.S.-India Venture
The U.S. Department of Energy recently announced the selections for three consortia that will make up the U.S.-India Joint Clean Energy Research and Development Center: Solar Energy, 2nd Generation Biofuels and Energy Efficiency of Buildings.

Joining the consortia from within the industry are: Saint-Gobain Corp. and Sage Electrochromics as part of the U.S. team, and Asahi India Glass and Saint Gobain Corp. as part of the Indian team in the Energy Efficiency of Buildings consortium. This consortium will focus on the integration of information technology with building controls and physical systems for commercial and high-rise residential buildings.

Vitro Shares Corporate Social Responsibility Strategy
Hugo A. Lara García, CEO of Vitro, recently offered a presentation about the company’s sustainability practices as well as the challenges on this issue in a global environment at the Business Leaders Forum hosted by the Mexican Center for Philanthropy and the Alliance for Social Responsibility in Mexico, according to information provided by the company.

“The main challenge we have faced to continue working on this topic is the scarcity of financial resources,” said Lara. “Thus, we look for every initiative we support to be financially self-sufficient in the short term.”

In 2011 Vitro trained 100 percent of its employees to comply with its code of Business Conduct and Professional Ethics, according to the company. The company also collected 192,506 tons of glass for recycling, where 80,172 tons represented flat glass and 112,334 tons glass containers.




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