The deck that collapses, injuring dozens of people and sparking lawsuits, was built illegally, according to Langley Township filings in the ongoing court cases.
Almost 40 victims – from age 15 to 83 – were hurt when a deck collapsed during a wedding celebration in the 5800-block of 268th Street in Aldergrove on April 19.
Since September, lawsuits have begun flying, naming the home’s builders, the owners, a company that rented the home for a wedding celebration, and the Township of Langley. So far, 21 lawsuits appear to have been filed.
Now Langley Township has filed its response, saying the local government isn’t responsible because the deck was both illegal and deficient.
Jatinder Kaur Grewal was one of the party-goers who has filed a lawsuit, listing an extensive list of injuries including a broken femur, multiple foot fractures, a broken tooth that required extraction, injuries to her right knee, scarring and soft tissue injuries, and PTSD, anxiety, chronic pain, and chronic fatigue, among others.
Grewal’s lawsuit names the owners, including the corporation Amaroo Estate, for building a deck that didn’t comply with building codes or local bylaws, and for failing to have it inspected by an engineer or designed by a qualified architect.
Grewal alleges the Township was negligent for failing to have a reasonable system of inspection or maintenance in place.
None of the allegations have been tested in court.
The Township’s response details some of the alleged construction issues with the deck, which the Township says was built illegally.
The house where the collapse took place was built in the early 1990s and is a 12,350 square foot home with 11 bedrooms and nine bathrooms.
The original architectural drawings for the home showed a single deck as part of the home, supported by four vertical columns.
Sometime after the home was finished and inspected by the Township, another deck – the one that collapsed – was built. It’s unknown which owner – the home has had three sets of owners, with Amaroo buying the property in 2016 – built the new deck.
“The illegal deck was constructed without any building permit from the Township,” said the Township’s legal response.
No one ever applied for permits or submitted drawings of the deck, the Township claims.
“Construction of the deck was thus carried out surreptitiously and entirely unbeknownst to the Township and, as a result, its construction was never subject to the Township’s inspection.”
The deck’s flaws are then listed.
It was apparently held up by two columns, with the deck only connected to the house’s fascia boards with nails and screws, not extending into or under the house for stability.
There was a gap in the waterproofing at the edge of the deck, which allowed in water and led to rot, the response says.
In addition, the Township now claims that Amaroo Estate was “in the business of providing executive-style furnished accommodations” and that this included renting the property for the April pre-wedding party.
The Township says this was an illegal rental business, run without a business license.
The municipality didn’t become aware of the business until after the deck collapse, says the claim.
The Township denied any responsibility for Grewal’s injuries, or even that she was present on the deck at all.
This is not the first time the building has drawn the attention of the Township. In 2011, a member of the public complained about illegal suites, allegedly being built by unqualified trades workers.
A Township inspection found at least three residential suites as well as a main dwelling unit, with four kitchens and four laundry rooms, and all the work had been done without building permits.
Warning letters and tickets were issued until the suites were removed.
A single legal secondary suite was built in 2014.