An application to launch a class-action lawsuit against the Residence Herron in Dorval, Que., where at least 30 people have died in the past month amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, has been filed in Quebec Superior Court.
Lead plaintiff Barbara Schneider, whose mother Mary died after contracting COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, while at the long-term care facility, is asking permission to seek at least $2 million in punitive damages for what the proposed lawsuit claims is “inhumane and degrading maltreatment” of residents.
As part of the application, the plaintiff is also seeking $25,000 per resident in moral damages. It is also asking for $25,000 per family for residents who have died since March 13, when COVID-19 was declared a public health emergency by the Quebec government.
If allowed to move forward, it will seek $10,000 in moral damages for families of each of the 130 residents and reimburse rent fees for the months of March and April 2020 for all residents.
The application states that Mary Schneider, 93, died on April 10 at the Herron residence after she was diagnosed with the respiratory illness and her condition rapidly deteriorated. She had been a resident at the long-term care facility since late February.
The request for a class-action lawsuit is filed against the Herron residence, Chartwell Quebec Holdings and the Katasa Group, which owns the residence.
The proposed lawsuit claims that Herron residents were denied their rights and “subjected to neglect, mistreatment, pain and discomfort.”
The residence west of Montreal is currently the subject of a Montreal police investigation and a coroner’s inquest following the deaths of 31 residents since March 13. At least five of those deaths have been attributed to COVID-19.
The Herron residence is now under government trusteeship. Local health-care officials first arrived at the scene on March 29.
Katherine Chowieri, whose family owns the residence, told Global News in a recent interview that staff at the Herron residence struggled to contain the virus and keep its employees on the job in March because it was facing a shortage of personal protective equipment for staff, despite asking the government for help procuring supplies.
“We did everything in our power, and we did everything to offer all services to each of the patients that we had — or each of our residents and offer the services. We never ended a day without ensuring that services were rendered to each patient.”
The Katasa Group is fully co-operating with police, according to Chowieri.
None of the allegations listed in the application have been tested or proven in court.
As of Friday, the regional health authority confirmed there are 61-cases of COVID-19 at the residence.
— With files from Global News’ Anne Leclair, Amanda Jelowicki and the Canadian Press