The owner of a troubled Langford apartment building that saw its rental tenants evacuated for a second time this week due to safety issues has failed in its attempt to sue the engineers who built the building, although the case is up on appeal.
Centurion Property Associates filed a lawsuit in October 2020 against DB Services, Loco Investments, Sorensen Trilogy Structural Engineering Solutions and the City of Langford seeking compensation for “alleged negligence in the design and construction of the building” – formerly called Danbrook One but rebranded as RidgeView Place.
In his decision dated December 30, 2022, Justice Gordon Weatherill dismissed Centurion’s application that the defendants owed Centurion a duty of care, based on the contract the companies signed when Centurion bought the property in 2019 based on the relationship of proximity.
“There is nothing unreasonable about limiting liability for professional errors and omissions on the part of an engineering sub-consultant, particularly in the context of a design-build contractor (DB Services) agreeing to assume responsibility for obtaining professional liability insurance. The decision not to insure against potential risks was made by the DB Services Defendants consciously. It remains to be seen as to whether their decision was financially prudent,” Weatherill wrote in his reasons for judgment.
“Any vulnerability regarding the risk allocation was entirely the product of DB Services failing to obtain the required professional liability insurance and Danbrook Inc.’s complicacy in the decision to self-insure. By doing so, they accepted the risk.”
DB Services, Jack James Architect, Sorensen, Brian McClure, Brian Douglas Lange and the City of Langford also filed to ensure their liability was limited to what was included in the contract Centurion signed with Sorensen, which Weatherill granted.
Centurion has appealed the decision, but the appeal has not yet come before the courts.
An analysis of the case written by Kim Do, an associate with Vancouver law firm Clark Wilson, said the decision was a controversial one.
“Nevertheless, (the case) is a clear message from the courts that if parties have agreed to allocate risk in their contractual relationships, then it will not lightly interfere with those choices – particularly not where such interference will allow a party a right to recovery that it contracted out of through negotiated allocation of risk.”
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