Lawyer says Elliot Lake mall owner hit with class-action suit
ELLIOT LAKE, Ont. -- Death threats kept Algo Centre Mall owner Bob Nazarian away from an afternoon press conference held near the damaged shopping centre.
Nazarian’s lawyer, Rene Fabris, issued a statement and answered questions from the media and members of the public, and when asked about the mall owner’s being a no-show, he told the crowd there have been threats made against Nazarian’s life. Fabris also said a class-action lawsuit against the owner has been launched.
“It has been very difficult for all involved,” he said, including the Nazarians. “Eventually, one day this mall will be up again. Eastwood Mall is here to stay.”
Inspections and questions whether there were early warning signs of a potential collapse were brought up by those in attendence.
Fabris said the inspections were public and close to $1 million in repairs were done since the Nazarians bought the mall.
Elliot Laker Valerie Clarke yelled out at Fabris about the state of the mall, which suffered a partial roof collapse Saturday.
“I don’t know how anyone in Elliot Lake would allow people to go in that mall," an angry Clarke said. “We all had bets on when this mall would fall and we were hoping it would be nighttime so no one would get hurt.”
But Fabris countered that the mall was inspected on a regular basis.
“I was born in and raised here and I’ve been in that mall since day one,” he said, adding he wouldn't allow his family to enter the mall if he thought it was unsafe.
“My family was in the mall when it collapsed. They were in, they were around. If I had thought there was any danger I would not have put my family in harm’s way.”
Fabris defended himself further by saying “I’m a member of this community as well.
"When all this media circus leaves ... what’s left is the Elliot Lakers. And I have to work to rebuild that. Do not point your finger at me.”
Gary Gendron, who’s finance Lucie Aylwin, 37, was one of the two women killed in the mall, tearfully thanked the rescue crews. The second woman killed was Doloris Perizzolo, 70.
“They spent endless hours hopefully trying to find survivors," Gendron said of the rescue crew. "The City of Elliot Lake stepped up and the leaders took charge.
“Frankly, I myself have a lot of unanswered questions. Now is not the time to be asking those questions. We need to be focused on grieving with our loved ones and saying thank you.”
As for the mall itself, Gendron had stronger words.
“Guaranteed there was nothing safe there at all. I think myself that mall should have been closed a long time ago.”
Do you think the province was prompt enough in its response to the tragic mall collapse in Elliot Lake?