Barrie tornado victims being offered free legal advice, urged to reach out before signing on for repairs

Lawyer Marshall Green doesn't want a replay of what he saw in 1985

A group of at least eight or nine lawyers with the Simcoe County Law Association has agreed to offer two hours of free legal advice to any Barrie tornado victims needing help with insurance issues and repair contracts.

Spokesman Marshall Green tells Barrie 360 he remembers the 1985 Barrie tornado and says as soon as the first reports went out, all sorts of contractors, some of them good and some of them not so good descended on the victims of the tornado.

“Many of them had contracts in hand waiting for people to sign and making deposits to get the work done,” says Green. “People who were still traumatized by being through the tornado itself. This ended up in a lot of lawsuits that followed after all the repairs were done.”

Green says his concern is people should have proper legal advice before they enter into contracts that may be for many, many, many hundreds of dollars.

“They could end up with contracts for shoddy workmanship or contracts for things they don’t really even need done for which they may have already paid deposits, or the work ends up being done not satisfactorily and no proper warranty.”

Green says the Law Society of Ontario and legal aid came around about two months after the 1985 tornado and offered compensation to lawyers if they would give free legal advice to victims, but he says that was many weeks after the need was established.

This time around, Green says the law association locally has agreed they don’t need legal aid to give them a small amount of compensation.

“I have been listening to reports of people who are already seeking deposits and people who are doing GoFundMe pages that we don’t know where the money is going,” he says. “They’re a lot of reliable contractors, and I have dealt with them over the years. But there are a lot of people who are willing to take advantage of folks who are in a desperate situation like this, who are not as legitimate, not as qualified and not as forthright as they should be.”

The law librarian at the courthouse is going to coordinate to match up people with lawyers who can give them the help. Green says everything will be organized by Monday, July 26, though people can email now to get on the list.