Homeowners lose $15M lawsuit against Ambassador Bridge company

An Ontario Superior Court judge ruled against two families who were seeking in excess of $15 million in total damages against the Canadian Transit Company in 2013.

2013 claim said boarded up homes diminished the use and enjoyment of the Sandwich properties

Dilapidated homes in west Windsor owned by the Ambassador Bridge company. (Derek Spalding/CBC)

An Ontario Superior Court judge has ruled against west Windsor residents who were seeking in excess of $15 million in total damages against the Canadian Transit Company (CTC) in 2013.

The Old Sandwich Town homeowners filed a claim in 2013 alleging the boarded-up homes in their neighbourhood, owned by the CTC, diminished the use and enjoyment of their properties.

Justice Thomas Carey ruled against the plaintiffs stating they failed to show that the dilapidated houses "created a compensable private nuisance." He added he was not convinced that the "harm done to the plaintiffs was substantial."

Carey wrote that, despite his ruling, he "sympathizes" with the residents of the area, saying they were "innocent victims" in the battle being waged between the City of Windsor and the Ambassador Bridge company.

Bill Sasso was representing the families against the bridge company. He said they are "bitterly disappointed" with the judge's ruling. (Dale Molnar/CBC)

Bill Sasso, partner at Strosberg Sasso Sutts LLP, was one of the lawyers representing the families. He said they were "bitterly disappointed" with the judge's ruling.

"I am also disappointed in the result. I thought, of course, that the people were entitled to the court's sympathy," said Sasso. "We were hoping that the court would recognize that these people were also entitled to the court's assistance and to legal remedies arising out of the way in which they have been treated and been treated for quite some time."

Sasso added the federal government's final permission for the bridge back in September was also a factor in the judge's ruling. 

He said he will meet with his clients to see if they will consider an appeal.

Carey acknowledged that although his verdict would probably not seem satisfactory to the plaintiffs and other residents in the area, "given the evidence heard and seen of the spirit of resilience of the Sandwich community, the recent upturn in the Windsor economy and the likelihood of substantial local improvements ... Sandwich may still very well have a bright and vibrant future ahead of it."

Carey said he hopes the CTC will take into consideration the "relative means and circumstances of the plaintiffs" and the "novel nature of this case" when considering the bill of costs.