Pyrrhotite: Victory of victims across the board

Trois-Rivières – The victims of pyrrhotite have something to celebrate. The Quebec Court of Appeal has just confirmed, in full, or even improved, the judgment rendered by Judge Michel Richard on June 12, 2014, said the prosecutor for the victims of pyrrhotite, Me Pierre Soucy, at the press briefing on Monday. Self-builders, for example, will be happy to know that they will be 100% compensated.
In a landmark judgment of over 350 pages, the Court of Appeal kept SNC-Lavalin’s percentage of responsibility at 70% on compensation of $ 196 million.

This judgment “allows the parties to confirm their rights, to confirm the compensation to which they are entitled. This is an important step that we have just taken, ”summarizes Me Soucy.

After all these years, interest of 37% will be added to the amounts of compensation that initially appeared in the 2014 judgment for each of the victims. And with a few exceptions (some companies among the victims), the amounts that the victims will receive will not be taxable.

However, there is a shadow in the picture and it is the possibility that SNC-Lavalin or other defendants may seek leave to the Supreme Court of Canada to review this decision. Before collecting money or enforcing the judgment, victims will have to wait another 60 days to find out if this will be the case.

At least two months separate the victims from their checks. If such an approach were to be made, the defendants will have to convince the Supreme Court that their claim is in the national interest. The defendants would then seek an order to stay the enforcement of the judgment. Me Soucy’s office says it is ready to contest this request.

Le Nouvelliste asked SNC-Lavalin on Monday if it intended to go in this direction. “Considering the scope of the case and the decisions of the Court of Appeal, SNC-Lavalin is to review these judgments and will not comment for the moment,” replied Nicolas Ryan, senior advisor for media relations.

Although he was obviously very happy with the decision of the Court of Appeal, the president of the CAVP, Alain Gélinas, well aware of this shadow hovering over the victims, launched to the defendants “a request that comes of the heart. We hope and we ask SNC-Lavalin and all those involved: please stop. Think of the family dramas that have been going on for 10 years. Settle this folder once and for all. I speak on behalf of all the victims, ”he pleads.

The former president of the CAVP, Yvon Boivin, believes that going to the Supreme Court “would be immoral and unacceptable. It would cause irreparable damage. If they go to the Supreme Court, it would be to save time, “he said. “The fight is not fair. It’s a business that fights families, ”he argues.

“The victims are exhausted,” said Alain Gélinas. “It is time that this crisis ends and that we move on to something else,” he said while rejoicing at the judgment that has just been rendered.

Despite everything, Alain Gélinas considers the decision on appeal “as a pat on the back.” The CAVP must indeed continue its fight for “all other files, in particular the financing of tests, letters of guarantee for victims in the gray area, the adjustment of school taxes for victims, tax credits and the implementation of financial assistance of $ 305 million ”, he illustrates.

Recall that the appeal request was lodged in 2015 by SNC-Lavalin, the concrete mixers, the quarry, the contractors and their insurers who had been convicted at first instance.

The Court of Appeal took all this time before filing its decisions, in particular because no less than 65 questions were in dispute. These questions dealt with the liability of the parties, damages as well as numerous insurance questions. The Court of Appeal therefore delivered, Monday, nothing less than 769 judgments grouped in 68 documents.

Recall that this judgment of the Court of Appeal only affects the victims of the first wave, that is, buildings constructed between 2002 and 2008, which represents 857 claims, including warranty plans (mainly the old GMN).

The second wave concerns buildings constructed between 1996 and 2008. This represents 830 files currently known. It is also not too late to register for this trial, says Soucy.

The CAVP recalls that between 1996 and 2009, some 8000 building permits had been issued in the region. There are currently around 3300 houses to be tested, recalls Michel Lemay, vice-president of the CAVP. Based on the averages observed, some 660 houses should therefore be repaired among those that have not yet been tested. In total, the crisis has forced and will force the repair of some 2,000 houses.

A third point remains in dispute, and that of the approximately 180 so-called gray zone cases, that is to say those in which the pyrrhotite levels are less than 0.23%.

The rate in question had been set by Judge Michel Richard during his judgment at first instance. Victims in this situation are unable to sell their property because no one knows how the concrete in the foundations will react to less than 0.23% pyrrhotite over time. A research chair is studying the issue at the moment.

A management conference for prosecutors will take place on April 20 by telephone.

Pyrrhotite in a few figures
8000 building permits issued between 1996 and 2008
4,700 homes tested so far
857 complaints in the first wave
830 complaints so far in the second wave
3300 houses have not yet been tested
About 660 houses to repair among these 3300 houses
1900 to 2000 houses completely repaired or to be repaired

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