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Judge gives green light to class-action suit in Elliot Lake mall collapse

ELLIOT LAKE, Ont. - An Ontario judge has given the go-ahead to a class-action lawsuit seeking $120 million in damages for businesses, workers and shoppers impacted by a deadly mall collapse in Elliot Lake, Ont.

The representative plaintiffs owned a restaurant in the shopping centre that was destroyed in the disaster, and one of them was injured when a section of the rooftop garage came crashing down in June 2012.

The suit alleges negligence on the part of the mall's current and former owners, as well as the city, province and others involved in its design, construction and inspection.

It seeks to represent a total of 300 people drawn from shoppers who were inside the mall at the time, the owners of stores as well as their employees.

The ruling from Justice Edward Belobaba — delivered Thursday — calls the disaster a "textbook" example of a case ideal for a class-action proceeding.

Relatives of two women killed in the collapse have also launched separate lawsuits alleging negligence on the part of the provincial government and the owner of the mall.

Belobaba wrote that the disaster lends itself to such a lawsuit because the question of liability can be "commonly resolved."

"This is exactly the kind of case for which the class-action vehicle and the common issues trial was designed."

Plaintiff Elaine Quinte — who was injured and her restaurant ruined in the disaster — said in a statement she hopes the legal action brings proper compensation to those who had their lives and careers devastated.

"My husband and I are just two of people who lost their life's work in the collapse. We are very pleased with the judge's decision and hope, for everyone's sake, that we can bring this case to a fair resolution as soon as possible."

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