Fri. Feb 23rd, 2024

Fatal accident: Domtar sues the company and the designer of the vehicle scaffolding for $40M

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The Domtar plant in Windsor, where the accident occurred. (Archive photo)

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Domtar and insurer Factory Mutual Insurance Company have filed a $40 million civil suit against scaffolding company AlumaSafway and engineer Paul Boileau in connection with the fatal collapse that claimed the lives of two workers in fall 2021 in Windsor.

According to documents dating from last February obtained by Radio-Canada, Domtar and the insurer argue that Aluma, as supplier and installer of the scaffolding designed by its own subcontractor, Boileau et Associés , is responsible for all design, material and installation defects […] which caused the collapse.

According to these documents, among others, the safety factor used in the design of the scaffolding was insufficient and contrary to the rules of the art.

To justify the amount requested, Domtar points out that it notably suffered a business interruption of several weeks due to the collapse, in addition to having suffered substantial costs to clean up the site of the collapse and repair the material damage caused by it.

In the summary statement of the defense, AlumaSafway's lawyer reports that the company, which is being prosecuted jointly with the engineer Paul Boileau, acted as a prudent and diligent contractor, and that all the work was carried out in accordance with the rules of the art, the contractual documents and the plans designed by Boileau .

Domtar is the author of its own misfortune, and must be held entirely responsible for the damages that the plaintiffs are claiming, the documents also indicate, emphasizing that in as a sophisticated client having interfered in the design of the work, Domtar cannot complain about design defects if there are any, or at the very least, the omission of #x27;have identified said defects in a timely manner.

Counsel also contends that on October 25, 2021, Domtar instructed its employees and/or third-party contractors to enter and enter the premises. carry out work in […] the digester knowing in particular […] that the work was not completed and that the work had not received certification from Boileau.

Without any admission, the damages claimed by the plaintiffs are unjustified, indirect and grossly exaggerated.

A quote from AlumaSafway's attorney

The lawyer ultimately argues that responsibility for the design defects that allegedly led to the incident lies with Paul Boileau, and that AlumaSafway cannot be held responsible for the damages.

According to the plaintiffs' lawyer, the case has reached the discovery stage. No trial date has yet been set, but it is expected to take place within the next two or three years.

Remember that two years ago, on the night of October 25 to 26, 2021, Yan Baillergeon, 39 years old, and Hugo Paré, 22 years old, were crushed under the weight of scaffolding which collapsed when x27;they worked in the digester at the Domtar plant. The search to extract the workers from the rubble lasted a few days, and several other workers were also injured.

In their respective reports, a coroner and the CNESST reported that the scaffolding had deficiencies, particularly in its design, and that ;there had been an excess of its maximum load.

Contacted by Radio-Canada, Domtar did not wish to comment on the process in course.

At the time of writing, AlumaSafway had not responded to interview requests from Radio-Canada. Radio-Canada was unable to contact Paul Boileau. According to the website of the Order of Engineers, he is now retired.

With information from Zoé Bellehumour

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