Two years after suspicious Vernon fire, restaurant owners take heat in civil lawsuit - InfoNews

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Two years after suspicious Vernon fire, restaurant owners take heat in civil lawsuit

The former New Delhi Indian Restaurant building was the site of a suspicious fire in December 2014.
Image Credit: Google Street View
January 27, 2017 - 8:30 PM

VERNON - No criminal charges were laid after a suspicious fire at New Delhi Indian Restaurant two years ago, but that hasn’t stopped the owners from being accused of causing the fire.

A civil claim filed Dec. 7, 2016 alleges the owners, Jasbir Singh Jammu and Balwinder Kaur Jammu, either intentionally set the December 2014 fire, or caused it through negligence. The fire was deemed suspicious by police and the fire department at the time, although no arson charges were ever laid.

It appears the lawsuit against the Jammus was filed by an insurance company, however the plaintiff’s lawyer Shaun Frost would not comment when contacted for clarification. The plaintiff listed on the notice of claim is the City of Vernon, which owns the property and leased it to the Jammus.

The city has already received $126,000 in insurance from the fire, which it is putting towards demolishing the building and constructing a parking lot.

Vernon Mayor Akbal Mund was not aware of the lawsuit when contacted Friday afternoon, and said he does not believe the city is directly involved.

“I assume what’s happened here is there was the fire, and obviously the city got paid out for that, but then the insurance company is claiming there was an… arson or something,” Mund says.

The notice of claim alleges the building’s sprinkler system was temporarily disconnected for repairs around Dec. 5, 2014. It goes on to say the alarm system was opened and closed around 3 a.m. on Dec. 9 by ‘User 2’ on the system, which was assigned to Jasbir Balwinder Jammu. The fire was detected about 3:26 a.m.

Court documents say the sprinkler system extinguished the fire, but state there was extensive property damage.

“The fire was intentionally set by the defendant Jasbir Singh Jammu or the defendant Balwinder Kaur Jammu or the defendant John Doe, acting alone or in concert with each other or other unknown persons,” the lawsuit alleges.

It states that in the alternative, the fire was set intentionally by someone operating on the “instruction or provocation” of the defendants, or by employees with access to the premises. In the further alternative, the plaintiff says the fire was caused by negligence or breach of duties by the defendants, including failing to control the access codes for the alarm system and allowing staff members to reside on the property despite it being a commercial premises. A third defendant, Tejinder Singh Jammu, is also named in the suit. 

When contacted by phone, Jasbir Jammu spoke briefly with iNFOnews.ca, and said the fire started in the basement and had nothing to do with his business. He declined an opportunity to speak further.

The plaintiff is seeking general damages and costs. The defendants have not filed a response to the notice of claim. None of the allegations have been proven in court.

Mayor Mund says the building is expected to be demolished this spring. 

The front doors of the New Delhi restaurant on 29 Street were broken where firefighters forced their way in to fight a fire Dec. 9. 2014.
The front doors of the New Delhi restaurant on 29 Street were broken where firefighters forced their way in to fight a fire Dec. 9. 2014.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston or call 250-309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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