|A worker can be seen on the second floor of the damaged Algo Centre Mall in Elliot Lake on June 23, 2012. (Courtesy of Paul Kazulak)
SAULT STE. MARIE, Ont. — A northern Ontario engineering firm that has been named in a class-action lawsuit regarding the deadly June 23 mall collapse in Elliot Lake said in a report earlier this year the building was “structurally sound.”
Douglas Elliott, of the firm Roy Elliott O’Connor LLP, of Toronto, confirmed Wednesday that M.R. Wright & Associates is the firm referred to, but not named, in earlier media reports regarding the lawsuit.
Elliott said M.R. Wright & Associates provided two reports — one in 2009 and another earlier in 2012 — that said the building was “structurally sound,” adding he is uncertain if the reports were commissioned by the mall owner or someone else or “to whom it was provided, but I understand that there were two reports done.”
M.R. Wright & Associates was the last engineering firm “who had an opportunity” to provide an engineering report on the Algo Centre Mall, Elliott alleged.
“It appears that they got it wrong and my understanding from our consultant is that given the nature of the collapse, a proper inspection should have revealed the problem,” Elliott said, adding he hasn’t read the engineering report.
“This is not something that was caused by a traumatic, unforeseen event. There was no earthquake or lightning strike or anything of that nature. This failure of the building occurred because of a long-term problem of corrosion due to water infiltration that was well known.”
M.R. Wright & Associates did not return a phone call and e-mail from QMI Agency requesting comment.
Five defendants in all have been named in the class-action suit. Two are Eastwood Mall Inc., which owns the Algo Centre Mall, and Robert Nazarian, the head of Eastwood Mall.
The Province of Ontario and City of Elliot Lake are also named.
None of the allegations made against any of the defendants have been proven in court.
“We didn’t know that name at the time, but that was the firm we had in mind,” Elliott said from Toronto.
Lawyers have filed a $30-million lawsuit on behalf of victims of the partial collapse of the Algo Centre Mall.
Two Elliot Lake residents, Doloris Perizzolo, 74, and Lucie Aylwin, 37, were killed, while 22 others were treated in hospital for minor injuries sustained in the collapse, which garnered international media attention.