A class-action lawsuit has been launched against a storage company in Abbotsford for damages caused to individuals’ property during the November 2021 floods.
The defendant in the case is BigSteelBox (BSB) Corp., which has 35 locations across Canada, including at 37400 North Parallel Rd. in Abbotsford near Cole Road.
The notice of civil claim pertains to shipping containers that were rented by BSB to the representative plaintiff, Steven Heimburger, and other individuals.
The lawsuit says that during the 2021 floods, the containers were “penetrated by water” and caused property damage despite having been represented as “watertight” or “waterproof.”
The claim states that BSB knew – or should have known – that the Abbotsford site was situated on a flood plain and should have advised customers that the area was at risk of flooding.
The lawsuit says that the company’s website indicated their containers were “wind, water and rodent-proof.”
But that wording was changed to read only “weather and rodent-proof” after the company became aware of the property damage, the lawsuit claims.
The plaintiffs also allege that they were “induced” into signing rental agreements that released the company from any liability for loss, damage or injury.
“At the time the plaintiff and class members entered the rental agreements, the defendant’s representations were untrue, inaccurate or misleading because the storage containers were not ‘waterproof,’ ‘water tight’ and were prone to leaking during heavy rain,” the lawsuit states.
In its response to the notice of civil claim, BSB states that the November 2021 flooding was “an act of God” that was an “unforeseeable event.”
The company states that the terms of their rental agreement were fair and laid out that BSB is not responsible for loss or damage to property within a container and that customers are responsible for acquiring contents insurance.
BSB says in the court documents that its agreement indicates the customer will not hold the company responsible for losses that might occur “due to vandalism, collision, fire, lightning, theft, explosion, flood, windstorm, act of God or any other intervening factor.”
The company also argues that claims that the containers were waterproof “were not material to the plaintiff’s decision” to sign the agreement, and “there was no reliance by the plaintiff upon same.”
“BigSteelBox’s conduct has never been high-handed, outrageous, reckless, wanton, entirely without care, deliberate, callous, disgraceful, willful and in contumelious disregard of the plaintiff’s rights,” the court documents state in response to the wording use in the plaintiff’s notice of civil claim.
Among the relief measures being sought by the individuals in the class action are declarations that BSB “misrepresented the characteristics of the storage containers intentionally and/or negligently” and that their actions constituted a “deceptive act or practice.”
In addition to seeking the costs for their damaged property, the individuals are also seeking aggravated and punitive damages, including damages for gross negligence and breaching the rental agreement.
None of the allegations has been proved in court.