The daughter of a 75-year-old London, Ont. man who police allege was killed by a 49-year-old nurse from Woodstock, is considering launching a civil lawsuit.
Elizabeth Tracey Mae Wettlaufer was charged Monday with eight first-degree murder charges in connection to the deaths of eight elderly people at nursing homes across southwestern Ontario.
Susan Horvath, daughter of Arpad “Art” Horvath, has retained counsel with the London law firm Cohen Highley LLP, just two days after Wettlaufer was charged.
Ontario Provincial Police said a drug was administered to patients at two nursing homes in Woodstock and London, Ont. between 2007 and 2014 — Caressant Care in Woodstock and Meadow Park in London where Horvath died.
VIDEO: Police say registered nurse administered a drug to kill eight elderly people at Ontario nursing homes
Susan Horvath’s lawyer, William Brennan, said they have not yet decided who the suit will target, but that one of the goals is to protect residents of long-term care facilities in the province from harm in the future.
“We’re looking at exactly whom we will be pursuing the lawsuit against,” said Brennan.
“There’s a lot of different parties potentially involved and we have to make sure that we identify the parties that are truly responsible for this (alleged) incident, and who’s potentially liable.”
Horvath spoke to AM980 and said the potential lawsuit was about justice for her and other impacted families, who were hit with what she called a “shockwave” this week.
“They’re all wanting justice for this,” she said. “And the only way that I thought justice is going to happen will obviously be through the legal channels.”
Brennan said one of the core elements of the lawsuit would be determining why suspicion wasn’t aroused at the two facilities where the alleged events occurred over seven years.
“It doesn’t look like anyone really detected that these (alleged) murders were taking place.”
“It may have been information that the nurse herself had told a councillor or a psychiatrist or someone,” he said.
“And it was only then that the police started to investigate. So it’s pretty scary, in my opinion, that you have someone from 2007 to 2014 and eight (alleged) murders — seven in one nursing home and one in the other. It’s just devastating for our client.”
The allegations against Wettlaufer have not been proven in court. Messages left with her lawyers were not immediately returned.
Brennan said he has no evidence to suggest the provincial government was culpable in the deaths, but wouldn’t rule out including the province in the suit when it’s filed, if necessary.
“(Horvath) wants to know that the government is going to look at regulations, whether or not they need new regulations or maybe just to enforce existing regulations more effectively, and just generally more oversight,” he said.
VIDEO: OPP detective outlines timeline of multi-jurisdictional investigation into nursing home murders
He noted that this suit, which has yet to be filed, could take years, especially as it’s unlikely to proceed until after Wettlaufer’s criminal proceedings run their course.
Horvath said she is prepared for it.
“I know it’s going to be lengthy … You can imagine (what’s) unfolding,” she said.
“If they’re really going to make a movement here with the nursing homes and they’re really going to get in-depth in this — what things can surface, how many rocks are going to be turned over here. This is definitely going to be a long process.”
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