Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Sunrise Propane Victims in Downsview Have Yet to See Class-action Money

TORONTO - Almost eight years after the Sunrise Propane plant exploded in the middle of the night, Vinicio “Victor” Viani has yet to see a penny from a class-action settlement.

“I hope they’re going to look after me before I pass on,” the 76-year-old said on Wednesday. “Because we did suffer quite a bit.”

The deadly Aug. 10, 2008, explosion killed one young man working at the now-defunct plant, and displaced around 6,000 people from their homes in the Keele St.-Wilson Ave. neighbourhood.

Viani was one of them.

His Murray Rd. Bungalow — which he had lovingly bought in 1964 and raised four children in — was destroyed in the blast.

Luckily nobody was home at the time, and home insurance covered rebuilding his current home, he said.

In August 2014, a $23-million settlement was approved in court, and almost $8 million was earmarked for injuries, uninsured expenses, lost income, and inconvenience suffered by members of the class-action suit.

A website was created — — for affected people, likely numbering in the hundreds, to file their claims, which Marsh Canada is tasked with administering.

Almost two years after the settlement was reached, Viani said he is surprised it’s taking so long to send out cheques.

“The subject is really important because I think we’ve been ignored completely,” he said.

Viani’s not alone. Resident Jeff Green and his parents were also affected by the blast. His father has since died.

“Overall, I have not been impressed, to say the least,” he said of his efforts to reach anyone with answers about why claims have not been paid out yet.

Marsh Canada spokesman Colleen Vesci said there has been “no delay.”

The appeals stage of the claims process recently wrapped up, she said in an email. Final payment amounts are being calculated and will need court approval before distribution.

Vesci could not say when court approval can be expected.

“As with any class action of this size and complexity, there are a number of steps that must be completed to ensure funds are distributed appropriately,” she wrote.

“Class actions of this nature often take several years to resolve. The length of time it has taken to resolve this one is really not out of the ordinary.”

Class counsel Ted Charney said the class members number in the thousands.

“We expect to be in court within the next 30-60 days,” he said. “The distribution will take place soon after.”

Councillor Maria Augimeri shared her constituents’ frustration with the process.

“We thought this was going to be taken care of two years ago,” she said. “They were assured they would get this money two years ago.”

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