A Peterborough law firm says it intends to file a class-action lawsuit against an Ottawa laboratory that reported false-positive test results for the novel coronavirus at a long-term care facility in Bobcaygeon.
On Tuesday afternoon, lawyer Murray Miskin announced he has been retained on behalf of individuals at Case Manor Community Care in the village 50 kilometres north of Peterborough. Miskin claims the erroneous test results have caused “distress” and “severe hardship” for residents, some staff and their families who were all forced to self-isolate.
Tests for the novel coronavirus were administered for 13 individuals at the facility between April 25-26 which showed eight positive results. According to the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit, an outbreak was declared after four residents and four staff members tested positive.
However, the health unit reported last Friday that Bio-Test Laboratories in Ottawa noted there were errors in 13 specimens from staff and residents at Case Manor and Adelaide Place in Lindsay.
“Suspicions arose May 1 that test results were in doubt,” said Miskin, senior lawyer and managing director of Miskin Law. “New test results, from another lab, which came out on May 4 showed negative for all concerned.”
Miskin says staff at Case Manor were “very concerned” and contacted him about the issues and stress of putting family members in self-isolation.
“If it turns out to be true positives then it was right to have done this to you and there’s no need to have a lawyer because you just have to deal with it, he said. “But if they turn out to be negatives, then the false positives resulted in some harm that shouldn’t have happened, that these test should be accurate, and if they’re not, it’s negligence.”
Global News Peterborough reached out to Bio-Test Laboratories for comment but has not received a response.
In its media release Tuesday, Miskin Law also claimed the COVID-19 test kits were provided by private biotech company Spartan Bioscience Inc. based in Nepean, Ont.
However, a spokesperson for Spartan Bioscience tells Global News Peterborough that the company does not have a working relationship with Bio-Test Laboratories.
The company calls Miskin’s allegations “entirely false.”
“Spartan has only shipped tests to the National Microbiology Laboratory (NML) and its provincial partners in Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta, Nova Scotia and Québec,” said Molly Kett, Spartan’s director of communications early Tuesday afternoon.
“According to NML’s report to Spartan, no tests were shared with Bio-Test Laboratories. Also, Bio-Test is not a Spartan customer.”
Kett also noted that the NML found that issues with Spartan’s proprietary swab led to false-negative tests and not false positives. On Monday, the company voluntarily recalled a rapid test for COVID-19 after Health Canada expressed concern about its effectiveness
Miskin Law, which also has offices in Lindsay and Whitby, aims to work in co-operation with Sienna Senior Living, the owner of Case Manor, to recover financial losses resulting from the incorrect testing and self-isolation.
Miskin says the class-action lawsuit will be issued online in Superior Court in Peterborough and notice of action was issued Tuesday. He’s asking anyone else impacted by the false test results to contact him. A date has not been set on when the lawsuit would be filed.
“Somebody screwed up, whether it was a faulty test or a faulty administration or interpretation of the test, we don’t know,” he said.
None of the allegations have yet been proven in court.
More to come.