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TCHC settles $4.85M lawsuit with 200 Wellesley St. tenants

Toronto Community Housing Corp. (TCHC) will pay $4.85 million to more than 600 tenants who lost property and were injured by a fire at 200 Wellesley St. in September 2010.

A class action lawsuit was filed November 2010 against TCHC and the building’s former operator, Greenwin Property Management Inc. A settlement was approved in June by a judge and the plan of distribution was approved on Friday.

“We’re delighted with the settlement and with the plan of distribution,” lawyer Brian Shell told CityNews.ca on Monday.

Shell said that “absent this class action” the tenants “would have recovered substantially less.”

Every tenant had different claims that they made depending on the nature and level of their property loss and personal injuries, he said.

Those being compensated include 130 children, of which 81 will receive less than $2,000, the Toronto Star reported. The majority of the 532 adults will receive less than $20,000 each, including 241 who will get between $1,000 and $1,999, the Star reported.

The fire started after a discarded cigarette landed on a 24th floor balcony filled with papers and other items. Neighbours say the unit was occupied by a hoarder.

The Wellesley building was Canada’s largest social housing building, according to the city’s ombudsman, and the fire forced the evacuation of 1,700 residents in 750 units – many of whom had special needs and no place to stay.

Shell noted how quickly the class-action was resolved, adding the group of people in the class action was “particularly vulnerable,” including people on Ontario Disability Support Program, Ontario Works, the elderly and single mothers.

The cheques will go out on Oct. 8, he said.