Thomson Rogers is issuing a class action lawsuit, claiming $15 million in damages on behalf of residents of Extendicare West End Villa and their families.
The law firm says at least 16 residents at the long-term care home have died as a result of contracting COVID-19 and related illnesses. Ottawa Public Health had confirmed 15 deaths related to COVID-19 as of Thursday, October 1.
One of the representative plaintiffs is Suzanne Zagallai, who’s mother Peggy is a resident at West End Villa.
Thomson Rogers says Peggy contracted COVID-19 while residing in a shared bedroom at West End Villa and continues to suffer from on-going illness.
It is alleged that, despite having ample time to properly implement an infection prevention and control program, West End Villa failed to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to its staff, as well as to ensure there was an adequate number of staff. The lawsuit also alleges that West End Villa failed to implement screening measures of its staff and basic social distancing practices.
The Ottawa Hospital was made interim manager of West End Villa on September 18.
"This is the sixth action Thomson Rogers has advanced on behalf of residents of a long-term care home in Ontario. It is unacceptable that six months after the COVID-19 pandemic was first declared and after we have lost so many elderly victims, that the same issues continue to repeat themselves at some homes. The families of the West End Villa residents are frustrated and upset that their loved ones are suffering and deserve answers," said Stephen Birman, a partner involved in the class actions.
This class action was issued on September 30, prior to the Class Proceedings Act, 1992 amendments coming into force on October 1, 2020. The amendments are expected to make it more difficult for class actions, such as those against long-term care homes, to be certified and therefore to proceed. These amendments will pose significant hurdles for individuals, especially our vulnerable seniors, to access justice and hold for-profit corporations accountable going forward.
Zagallai, her mother and their family, as well as other families of the victims and survivors of the COVID-19 outbreak at West End Villa, want compensation for their losses. According to Thomson Roger, they hope that the independent commission into Ontario’s long-term care system and the proposed class action will result in meaningful change to ensure that a tragedy like this is never repeated in Ontario’s vulnerable long-term care population.