Case of the Red Balloon Building
The case of the Red Balloon building pitted a toy-shop owner against a city and turned on the question of legal causation. Several million dollars were pursued over an eight-year proceeding that ended after a five-week trial and a judgment delivered by Justice Doug Thompson on August 10, 2017. The plaintiff alleged that the City was negligent for the backhoe collision with her building, street construction that caused vibration damage to her building and sprinkling of an adjacent park causing water damage, and sought judgment for $550,000 in unsuccessful building repairs, $431,000 in demolition costs, $693,000 to construct a new building, $700,000 for lost toy-store profits, $190,000 for rental losses, $100,000 for lost opportunity to sell her business, and $195,000 in other expenses, totaling $2.8 million.
Jeremy Martin and Neil Carfra represented the city and relied on engineering and historical evidence to argue that the building’s problems related to its original condition, described as a crumbling structure. The judge rejected the plaintiff’s argument that, although the building was vulnerable due to age and type of construction, it would have remained functional without needing significant repairs but for the defendants’ negligent acts. After a drawn-out case, the judge awarded the plaintiff only $6,669 and no costs from the city to repair the cosmetic damage. For more details on this case see the linked article from the November 2017 edition of Insurance People magazine.