Donations fund repairs to beleaguered London nightspot – The London Free Press



A last-ditch public appeal to save a storied downtown bar — slapped with two back-to-back personal injury lawsuits and mounting building repair costs — is paying off, raising more than $16,000 in four weeks.

Call the Office was put up for lease a month ago just as its owner launched an online crowdfunding campaign to repair the 150-year-old York and Clarence Street venue.

To date, the online crowdfunding campaign is within $2,000 of its $18,000 goal, prompting gratitude from bar owner Tony Lima.

“We managed to pay off a couple of outstanding utility bills and we’ve just finished installing new doors at the patio and back,” he said in an online post in early July. “These replace the 25-year-old doors and their rusty frames. . . . We couldn’t have done it without your help.”

The online fundraiser had initially set out to raise $10,000 after roof repairs, pipe and water heater fixes took a bite out of the music destination’s bottom line. In the online post, Lima also said “frivolous but expensive legal activities” affected the tavern’s finances.

“Any one of these on its own is no big deal but when they come in rapid succession it does add up,” Lima said on the GoFundMe page last month.

The downtown bar, a go-to destination for big-name and lesser-known acts in its heyday, has had two personal injury lawsuits brought against it in the last four years, court documents obtained by the Free Press show.

Both were eventually dismissed by the plaintiffs.

Call the Office was served a statement of claim March 3, 2016 by a woman seeking $900,000 in damages from the York Street bar.

In July 2014, the woman alleges she fell off a raised stage at the bar and suffered a “head injury with concussive type symptoms” and a fractured tailbone among other injures, her statement of claim said.

In her court filing, the woman accused the bar over-served alcohol and said staff didn’t take proper precautions to ensure patrons’ safety.

Call the Office denied the allegations. Neither the bar nor the woman’s assertions have been proven in court.

In April, the woman filed a motion for the court to dismiss her lawsuit against Call the Office without costs. The business agreed to accept the motion.

Two years before the latest lawsuit was filed, another woman slapped the downtown business with a separate statement of claim in August 2014 seeking $600,000 damages.

In the filing, which includes statements not proven in court, the woman alleges she was knocked over and injured while at an “unsupervised and overcrowded” concert in August 2012.

The woman claimed she suffered an anterior cruciate ligament tear in her right leg that required surgery. Among other allegations, she said the bar and its staff did not take reasonable precautions — including providing adequate supervision — to keep patrons safe.

In its statement of defence, which has not been tested in court, Call the Office said its staff took care to ensure patrons were safe on the premises and said the woman was injured because of her own negligence, specifically not paying attention to her surroundings.

The woman filed a motion for the court to dismiss the lawsuit against Call the Office without costs in February 2015.

Lima did not respond to repeated requests for comment Wednesday.

The building at 216 York Street is still up for lease, according to its online real estate listing.

In its decades-long history, Call the Office has played host to local bands and big-name acts including the Tragically Hip, Nelly Furtado, Radiohead, Blue Rodeo, Goo Goo Dolls and the Barenaked Ladies.