Court certifies class action over Shangri-La Tower windows

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All owners of condo units in the upscale Shangri-La building can participate in the claim.

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A B.C. Supreme Court case alleging faulty glass windows fogged up, leaked and shattered spontaneously in the Shangri-La residential condo tower in downtown Vancouver has been certified as a remedy collective.

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The move allows all condominium unit owners in the upscale Shangri-La live/work building, where there are two strata – one for units on floors 16-43 and one for floors 44-62 – to participate in claiming it.

The B.C. Supreme Court decision giving the green light to the class action lawsuit was handed down in early February by Justice Paul Walker.

The main plaintiff, who owns and lives in a unit on one of the highest floors, first filed a notice of civil suit in December 2015.

In September 2021, the plaintiff sought to amend the claim by expanding the class definition and adding new negligence claims and a number of new parties, but the court found that some of them constituted “an abuse of procedure”, according to a note on the site of the defendants’ lawyers.

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The class action certification now comes after strata minutes leaked over the past few years described the possibility of the building’s windows cracking as a ‘real and unacceptable risk’.

The court’s decision in February gave more details that illustrate the difficult number of steps, components and parties involved when it comes to potentially assigning fault.

He described the building’s curtain wall system as “consisting of pre-engineered panels constructed as separate four-sided insulated glass units (IGUs) that are meant to be integral to the proper functioning of the building and separate the exterior and interior environments. IGUs include inner and outer glass (called glasses) separated by a metal spacer bar.

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The Shangri-La Hotel and Georgia and Thurlow Residential Tower.
The Shangri-La Hotel and Georgia and Thurlow Residential Tower. Photo by Ian Lindsay /PROVINCE

“Outer and inner lites have different structural attributes. The outer pane is heat strengthened glass while the inner pane is tempered glass. The inner pane is twice as stiff as the outer pane, and unlike the outer pane, it is meant to shatter into small pieces when broken. The two panes of glass are sealed to the spacer using two types of sealant intended to provide an air and vapor tight cavity between the panes. A chemical known as a “desiccant”, designed to absorb moisture from the air between the two glasses, is contained inside the spacer bar.

The defendants named by the lawsuit are the legal owner of the land, KBK No. 11 Ventures Ltd., the developer, 1100 Georgia Partnership and its partners, which include companies linked to local groups such as the Peterson Group and Westbank Corp.

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“It will be interesting to see how they identify the reason for the … failures,” said Tony Gioventu, executive director of the Condominium Home Owners Association. “It could be for a number of reasons, and it’s not even just thinking about developers and builders for suppliers, but how the glass and materials were stored and transferred to the job site. of construction.”

The building, which is Vancouver’s tallest tower and known for its floor-to-ceiling ocean and mountain views, was completed in 2009 and contains some of the most expensive condos in the city.

A first set of minutes from a special general meeting for strata on the lower floors in September 2020 noted that over the years broken interior panes meant that some windows had already been removed and replaced on nine floors.

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The minutes alleged that up to 70% of the windows failed “decades prematurely and reached only a fraction of their expected 40-year lifespan”.

  1. The Strata minutes suggest that the Shangri-La's glass windows may need to be replaced at a cost of more than $60 million.

    Shangri-La Tower’s glass windows could break ‘spontaneously’, strata warn

  2. The Shangri-La is Vancouver's tallest tower

    Strata revises minutes detailing window failures in Vancouver’s Shangri-la Tower

A few months later, those strata minutes for the units in the lower part of the building on floors 16-43 were changed to a more low-key version, leaving out the above details and an initial estimate that it might cost $65 million to rebuild the curtain wall and replace the window units in increments.

Each stratum also has two other legal actions pending, one to recover warranty costs from insurers and the other against developers, builders and contractors.

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These four other cases will be heard by the court at the same time, starting in September in a trial that is expected to last 130 days, according to the recent decision of the Supreme Court of British Columbia regarding the certification of the class action.

Strata alleges “systematic dangerous defects pose a substantial risk of physical harm, including to the health and safety of anyone in the vicinity of the building”.

The plaintiff, named in earlier filings as Amos Michelson, a resident who owns and lives in a penthouse, “advances the same allegations in this proceeding regarding systemic defects,” according to the ruling.

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