West Kelowna man injured in steel building collapse takes manufacturer to court | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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West Kelowna man injured in steel building collapse takes manufacturer to court

Image Credit: PEXELS

WEST KELOWNA  - Two years ago, Mark Schuppener noticed the frame in his newly-erected steel building seemed to be under stress. He says the manufacturer agreed he should brace the building with lumber but while doing that, the structure collapsed on him, knocking him out and causing severe injuries.

Now he's taking the company that provided the building materials to court and won an important early round.

In a Kelowna Supreme Court decision yesterday, March 25, Schuppener fended off early attempts by Pioneer Steel to have the case dropped or moved to Ontario. Schuppener is suing Pioneer Steel Manufacturers Limited for negligence, breach of contract, and liability.

The court document details how and why Schuppener bought the building to begin with. He was looking for a prefabricated outbuilding for storage of his travel trailer and other items in 2015. He came across Pioneer and began communications with Paul Rizzuto, the vice president, and two sales representatives. Schuppener claims he clearly expressed to them he wanted a building best suited for the climate, elevation, and weather conditions in West Kelowna.

The court document shows Schuppener signed a contract on March 1, 2016 for a 32-foot wide, 60-foot long, and 18-foot high building made with 22 gauge steel for a total purchase price of $18,375. The steel building was shipped to his West Kelowna property.

Schuppener claims he hired professionals to lay the foundation and put the building up in November and December 2016, and started storing items inside it in January 2017. He said on Feb. 11 he became concerned the building seemed to be changing, noting that accumulated snow and ice were putting stress on the frame.

The decision says he contacted Rizzuto, who said bracing the building with lumber would be a "good idea." On Feb. 13, Schuppener tried to brace the structure and it collapsed on him.

Schuppener claims the building's steel was too thin for B.C. climate and that Pioneer should have known 22 gauge steel buildings have a history of collapsing in the province.

Pioneer tried to move the proceedings to Ontario, citing a clause in the contract between them and Schuppener which stated any disputes will be handled in the company's province. Justice Paul Riley decided the clause should not be enforced, stating evidence Schuppener needs to prove his case (witnesses, the building itself) are more accessible in B.C.

Pioneer's application to stay or transfer the proceedings to Ontario was dismissed.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Sean Mott or call (250) 864-7494 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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