What's blacked out in crane report cause for concern, lawyer says

The law firm representing one of the businesses in a proposed class-action lawsuit stemming from a crane collapse in Halifax last fall has concerns over a heavily redacted engineer's report.

"Fundamentally, this is about public safety," said Kate Boyle, a lawyer with Wagners Law Firm.

Wagners is representing Thornblooms, one of the businesses affected by the crane collapse.

"Right now, there are approximately two dozen cranes erected all over Halifax and the public wants to know why this happened and if this can be prevented in the future," Boyle said.

On Friday, Global News released an engineer's report obtained under access-to-information legislation stating the crane that toppled in downtown Halifax during post-tropical storm Dorian malfunctioned months prior to the incident.

Report confirmed rumour

Boyle said prior to the report the law firm had only heard rumours about a past issue with the crane. She said the engineer's report confirmed it.

Some of the data blacked out in the report included information on wind speed, the history of the crane and the history of inspections.

Craig Paisley/CBC

The redactions in the report, Boyle noted, relate to law enforcement. She said that suggests there are likely other investigations into the cause of the collapse.

An official cause for the collapse has yet to be made public.

The defendants in the proposed class action suit include W.M. Fares Group, the developer of the building where the crane toppled, Lead Structural Formwork Ltd., and the Manitowoc Company, Inc.

Lead Structural Formwork of Moncton owns the crane and Manitowoc, based in the U.S., is the crane's manufacturer.

Boyle said all the parties have been served. She said a date has been set in February to meet with a judge and the defendants' council.

Effect on case unclear

Gavin Giles, the McInnes Cooper lawyer representing W.M. Fares Group, said Saturday he had been unaware of the report prior to media coverage.

He said there isn't enough information in the redacted version of the report to make a full assessment of how those details might affect a class-action lawsuit, but he suspects it will have little impact..

"It deals with something which happened in May, prior to the crane being modified and a substantial component removed and a new coolant component installed," Giles said.

"It also makes the point, accurately as I've indicated, that WM Fares didn't own the crane, it didn't operate the crane."