A long-simmering lawsuit over an alleged leaky condo in North Vancouver has been settled out of court just as the case was set to go to trial in B.C. Supreme Court.
Condo owners, represented by the strata council for the 13-storey Q building on West First Street, launched a lawsuit in 2006 - five years after the highrise was built - against Travelers Guarantee Company of Canada, the new home warranty insurers.
In the suit, the condo owners sought compensation for the cost of repairing damage they alleged was caused after water seeped in through the building envelope, contrary to the five-year warranty.
According to court documents, the condo owners first identified damage from water leaks in 2005. The insurance company was notified, an inspection was done and repairs were carried out.
But in 2006, the owners launched the lawsuit, alleging further problems. According to court documents, the strata council alleged water had seeped in through the penthouse at the top of the highrise.
But after inspecting the property, the insurance company told the owners the water damage in the penthouse had been caused by faulty mechanical equipment, not by any problems with the building envelope.
Those problems weren't covered under the five-year building envelope guarantee, the insurers said.
In a recent hearing held to determine if a full trial was needed in the case, experts hired by the condo owners and the insurance company gave conflicting evidence in written affidavits about the scope and cost of what would be required to determine the extent of water seepage.
The experts also disagreed on whether cracking in the exterior concrete walls constituted a defect in the building envelope.
The insurance company's lawyer argued the building code allows for "some degree of ingress" provided damage is "not significant" and it doesn't adversely affect the health and safety of the building's occupants, according to court documents.
Key to the case was determining how much proof was required that water had leaked into various parts of the building, plus where and when that happened.
In rejecting a request for a shorter summary trial, conducted through written affidavits, Justice Paul Pearlman noted this month the case wouldn't just affect the Q building's owners, but also "potentially thousands of homeowners throughout British Columbia."
The insurance company was potentially similarly affected, wrote the judge because "it has issued many policies containing identical terms."
The judge added regardless of the outcome of a summary trial, the losing side was certain to appeal.
A full trial in the case was set to get underway this week in B.C. Supreme Court, nearly seven years after the lawsuit was launched.
But instead, the two sides reached a confidential out-of-court settlement.
The Q building, at 124 West First Street, was one of the first highrise condo towers built in Lower Lonsdale by Seagate Properties after the City of North Vancouver started selling municipally owned land there for development more than a decade ago.
The city sold the land to Seagate in 2000 for $2.3 million.