A recent fire at a Kingsville, Ontario, thermoforming plant has spawned a C$80 million (US$52.6 million) class-action lawsuit against Horti-Pak Inc.
Meanwhile, an owner of the plant said the company plans to rebuild.
Plaintiffs in the case allege the June 20 fire at Horti-Pak and related, smoke-released toxins created a private and public nuisance. They further allege the fire and consequent damages were caused by negligence.
About 600 people near the plant in Kingsville evacuated their homes June 21 on the advice of safety officials to flee dense smoke from the fire.
The original plaintiffs in the lawsuit are Jim Ludwig, Alison Causton, Sere Farms, August Keller and Ilse Keller. The lawsuit is being led by prominent class-action lawyer Harvey Strosberg of law firm Sutts Strosberg LLP of Windsor, Ontario.
Fire officials said they suspected an electrical malfunction caused the blaze, which was allowed to burn itself out and caused millions of dollars' worth of damage at the 85,000-square-foot facility. The plant employed about 20; none were injured.
Horti-Pak was a thermoformer of polystyrene seed trays. The Kingsville area has a dense concentration of greenhouses for nursery stock, fresh produce and flowers.
Horti-Pak plans to rebuild its operation, said co-owner Denise Sergeant. She and her partner have not made firm decisions, but a temporary, off-site facility is possible, she said in a telephone interview. Although the fire occurred during a seasonally slow period, her partner based in the United States is scouting for alternative supplies for customers that need nursery trays.
Sergeant would not comment on a damage estimate or possible cause of the fire. Fire officials were unavailable to elaborate on their investigation.