Father of Old Montreal fire victim files $22M class-action lawsuit

By The Canadian Press

The father of one of the victims of the Old Montreal fire filed a request Friday for a $22 million class-action lawsuit against the owner of the building and Airbnb.

Randy Sears, the father of Nathan Sears – a 35-year-old man who died in the March 16 fire that killed six other victims – is the plaintiff in the case presented to the Superior Court of Quebec.

The lawsuit for negligence targets the owner of the building, Emile Benamor, and the online short-term rental platform Airbnb. Another defendant listed is Tariq Hasan, who offered several units for rent through Airbnb.

READ: Old Montreal fire: the stories of seven victims

Of the seven people who lost their lives, six were staying in unlicensed short-term rentals.

The lawsuit, still to be authorized, would include the family members of the occupants who perished in the fire and all those who were in the building that day.

At least 22 people were inside, and they all likely have family members who were also affected by the events, the lawsuit said.

WATCH: Survivor of Old Montreal fire recounts ordeal

The class-action lawsuit seeks punitive damages of $22 million for violating the members’ rights to personal safety and dignity guaranteed by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Sears is asking to be the class representative in this matter.

The last two victims of the fire were identified on Tuesday by coroner Géhane Kamel. They are Charlie Lacroix, 18, and Walid Belkahla, also 18.
Five victims had previously been formally identified: Sears, 35, An Wu, Dania Zafar and Saniya Khan, all 31, and Camille Maheux, 76.

Old Montreal Fire victims. From left to Right: (Top row) An Wu, Charlie Lacroix, Camille Maheux, Nathan Sears. (Bottom row) Dania Zafar, Walid Belkahla, Saniya Khan.

During the fire, apart from the seven people who died, nine people were injured and taken to hospital and six escaped unscathed.

Now that the victims have all been found, the investigation will focus on finding the causes and circumstances of the fire.

Many questions were raised, including emergency exits and the lack of windows in some units.

In the aftermath of the tragedy, Airbnb announced it would remove illegal listings in Quebec from its site. The CAQ government has undertaken to table a bill to force the other platforms to do the same.

—This report by La Presse Canadienne was first published in French and translated by CityNews

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