An outbreak of a rare disease in 2012 caused 14 deaths in Quebec City – the cause was soon linked to poor maintenance of building cooling towers.
Five years later, victims of a class-action lawsuit still don’t know who to hold responsible.
One of those victims is Nadya Champagne’s father, who succumbed to Legionella, a disease many Quebecers had never heard of until a major outbreak in the province’s capital in the summer of 2012.
Champagne was only 55.
On Monday, his daughter was emotional at the courthouse as she spoke about the long process.
The legionella was caused by a bacteria built up in two cooling towers on the roof of the building of the Gabrielle Roy Library.
It spread through the air — fourteen people died and hundreds of others got sick.
“There is around more than 180 people that have been contaminated,” said health lawyer, Jean-Pierre Menard.
Menard is representing the victims and their families in a class-action lawsuit against the owner of the cooling towers and the CIUSSS de la Capitale-Nationale.
However, those defendants say others are responsible, something that infuriates the victims’ families.
“Who’s fault is it?” Champagne asked. “That little drop of water came from somewhere!”
The owners say the three maintenance providers should also be named in the lawsuit and the health region says the Régie du bâtiment should be involved for allegedly not developing proper regulations.
If the judge agrees, there will be seven defendants in total.
“Some of the defendants are trying to involve other parties that we have not sued at the beginning to be involved in the process and to share with them eventually any cost of the compensation,” Menard explained.
He added that it will make the case much more complicated, but will not result in any higher pay-outs for victims.
“We can’t grieve until this is over,” Champagne said.
She added that she’s exhausted.
Comforted by her brother, she says she can’t wait for the trial to be finished.
But first, the judge must determine when, and against whom, it will begin.