Victims treated at the scene when an Aldergrove deck collapsed on April 19, 2019, ranged in age from 15 to 83. (Shane MacKichan photo)

Former Aldergrove property owners added to deck collapse lawsuit

There are now 23 lawsuits related to the collapse

More former owners of the property where a deck collapse last year injured dozens are being added to a series of 23 lawsuits.

On April 19, 2019, almost 40 people were hurt, several of them seriously, when a second-storey deck collapsed during a large family gathering at an Aldergrove home.

Ambulances, and Air Ambulance, firefighters, and police descended on the scene to provide first aid to the victims and rush many of them to hospital.

In the weeks after the collapse, 23 lawsuits were filed by various victims, targeting primarily the rental firm and the landowner, but also the Township of Langley.

Now the defendants include former property owners going back to the early 1990s.

The primary defendants are Amaroo Estate, the company that rented out the house for gatherings, the property’s owners at the time of the collapse, and the Township. The plaintiffs allege that the party rental firm, owners, and Township were all in part responsible for the deck being unsafe.

All the defendants have denied wrongdoing.

Starting as early as November 2019 and continuing through the summer, the Township of Langley and the various injured plaintiffs have petitioned the court to bring more people into the lawsuit.

The Township, in a filing late last year, claimed that former property owners Ronald Zaruk, Dennis Murphy, Yajun Chen and Zi Li Chen could have been responsible for negligence related to construction, maintenance, and repairs on the deck. Other lawsuits have also since added them as defendants or third parties.

It also asked the courts to add Jatinder Singh Garcha as a third party. Garcha had rented the house for the gathering, and is himself one of the people suing Amaroo Estate, the owners, and the Township.

Garcha was on the deck when it collapsed and claims he suffered head, back, ankle, and knee injuries in the collapse, which left him with headaches, mood disruptions, and sleep disruptions.

None of the claims filed in the lawsuits have been proven in court.

Murphy, one of the alleged former owners, countered in a response to lawsuits that he had never actually known that he owned the property, and that his name was added to the deed without his knowledge.

Zaruk, according to the Township’s claims, may have been the original builder of the home, and the Township alleges that either Zaruk, his firm Norm-Ron Construction, or a group known as ABC Contractors may have been involved with construction or alteration of the deck.

The Township has also alleged that the entire deck was built illegally and without permits.

Because the Township is being sued by a number of the victims, it asked the court for a declaration that the various previous owners, builders, and contractors are at fault to a degree, and to declare that the Township is entitled to a contribution from each of those third parties based on their respective responsibility for the collapse.

Earlier court filings by the Township alleged serious construction issues with the deck, saying it was held up by two columns, and only connected to the main house with nails and screws. A gap in the weatherproofing at the edge of the deck allowed in water and led to rot, the Township alleges.

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