Lawsuit on hold

A lawsuit launched by four companies affiliated with the SmartCentres shopping centre in Salmon Arm is on hold.

A lawsuit launched by four companies affiliated with the SmartCentres shopping centre in Salmon Arm is on hold.

In December of last year, a judge ruled that a lawsuit launched by SmartCentres Inc., Salmon Arm Shopping Centres Limited, Calloway Reit (Salmon Arm) Inc., and a B.C. numbered company against EBA Engineering Consultants Ltd. and three of its employees should proceed to a full trial. The defendants had applied for a summary trial – an expedited judicial process. A date of July 13 was set.

The lawsuit centres on the properties which are now the site of the SmartCentres shopping centre, anchored by the Walmart store. The plaintiffs state, in court documents, that they relied on  two EBA reports when they purchased the properties and they say the reports were prepared negligently by the defendants.

The properties were subject to provincial regulations governing setbacks to fish-bearing waters. EBA provided two reports, a preliminary environmental investigations report on Feb. 22, 2007 and a preliminary riparian area regulation assessment on July 30, 2007.

SmartCentres completed purchase of the land on Oct. 15, 2007 for $14.7 million.

The plaintiffs stated the two reports suggested that substantial portions of the properties could be used for development based on the setbacks from the riparian areas suggested. However, they say, the high water mark of Shuswap Lake impinges on the properties so much that only a portion of the land could be used for redevelopment. The plaintiffs say they suffered a loss of at least $3.3 million, and perhaps much more, as a result of their reliance on the EBA reports.

The defendants have put forward several defences, which include: they were not negligent in preparing the reports; the company did not breach its contractual obligations; and any loss suffered by the plaintiffs was caused by their own negligence or their failure to mitigate.

Although a trial date was set for 10 days beginning July 13 of this year, court records show that the trial has been adjourned. The court registry had no information on when the trial might be re-scheduled, and neither the lawyer for the plaintiffs nor the lawyer for the defence could be contacted.