A class action lawsuit was filed Tuesday against Revera Inc., the company that operates McKenzie Towne Continuing Care Centre in Calgary, the site of a deadly COVID-19 outbreak.
The lawsuit, filed May 12 by James H. Brown and Associates and Guardian Law, focuses on the long-term care facility’s “failure to mitigate COVID-19 in their McKenzie Towne Continuing Care Centre.”
The lawsuit claims Revera Inc. did not follow proper protocols in response to COVID-19 and that the fatalities at the site “should have been avoided.”
“In our investigation, we have seen negligence and a failure to act,” said Rick Mallett, head of the Class Action Department at James H. Brown and Associates, in a news release.
“We’re representing the loved ones of a senior who tragically passed away at the Mackenzie Towne Care Centre as a result of COVID-19,” Jonathan Denis, a lawyer with Guardian Law Group, told Global News on Wednesday.
“In this particular case, we’ve received information that the care centre didn’t seem prepared, they didn’t have a plan in place to deal with the pandemic, there was inadequate spacing between residents – for example, two beds in a room only 36 inches apart – staff entering rooms without any personal protective equipment, and not enough staff able to respond,” Denis said.
“This action does not target care centres as a whole because there are many care centres that actually had no outbreaks of COVID-19 or if they did, they dealt with it appropriately,” he added.
“I recognize that many people are working diligently to deliver the supports for the needs of our aging population in care but unfortunately this facility fell below the standards that seniors deserve.”
Denis said Guardian Law doesn’t expect to receive a response for several months.
The two law firms are asking anyone impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak at McKenzie Towne Continuing Care Centre to contact them.
According to Alberta Health, McKenzie Towne Continuing Care Centre has had 114 confirmed COVID-19 cases to date, including 20 deaths.
As well, 93 of the cases were recovered as of Wednesday.
In a statement, Revera extended its deepest sympathies to all the families and friends of residents and employees affected by COVID-19.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is a devastating situation for the entire senior care sector across Canada, and around the world. COVID-19 is a virulent virus and as a global community we are learning more about it every day.”
The company said it had not been served as of Wednesday afternoon.
“We are currently reviewing the class action lawsuit which was forwarded to us by media outlets and will respond in due course. That said, as we are sure you can appreciate, since this is a matter before the courts, we will not be able to speak to the specifics of the lawsuit, but we can say that we will approach it as we do any situation like this: with respect for the system and for all parties involved.
“We are grateful to our dedicated employees and for the care they provide. They are among the heroes of this pandemic.
“Our staff provide comfort, care and compassion every day – to mothers, fathers, grandparents – and we are doing everything we can to help them do this work.
“Our homes regularly meet or exceed government standards. We have been following government directives since the outset of the pandemic and we have been working closely with government partners as the pandemic has progressed.”
Revera said there have been “no recent additional cases of COVID-19 among the residents or staff” at McKenzie Towne. The company is reporting different numbers than Alberta Health, with 62 total confirmed cases (two presumed), 44 cases in staff, and 21 fatalities at the site.
“The staff have been totally committed to the care and safety of our residents and their colleagues throughout the outbreak,” Revera’s statement reads.
“We continue to work closely with Alberta Health Services’ public health experts to implement and comply with their directives, and we are very grateful for the support and expertise they are providing to us.
“Despite no recent cases, McKenzie Towne remains in isolation as a precaution. Staff continue to follow pandemic protocols and wear Personal Protective Equipment, as per Alberta Health Services guidelines, at all times, until such time as it is confirmed that COVID-19 has been eradicated completely from the home.
“The home has communicated regularly with the families of the residents by email to keep them up to date on the situation at the home and families are called regularly with updates on their loved ones.”
Plaintiffs included in the statement of claim are current or former residents of McKenzie Towne Continuing Care home who contracted COVID-19 while there and became ill, and their families.
One of the plaintiffs’ mother moved into the facility on Feb. 25, the statement of claim reads. Alberta had its first presumptive case of COVID-19 on March 5. On March 14, visitors were no longer allowed at McKenzie Towne. The plaintiff’s mother was tested on March 25, the plaintiff was told by phone March 28 that her mother had tested positive. She died April 4.
The class action lawsuit claims there was negligence and a breech of duty of care, especially given the vulnerability of this population. Plaintiffs claim Revera “failed to ensure adequate safety protocols were in place, including “ensuring adequate sanitation protocols were in place,” “to conduct or arrange for regular testing,” taking immediate steps to “isolate those affected,” and to “monitor or provide adequate separation.”
Court documents also claim the site didn’t have “any or adequate personal protective equipment” and “failed to implement and adhere to protocols mandated or recommended by Alberta Health Services, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health and the World Health Organization.”
The statement of claim says damages being sought are $15 million in general damages, $5 million in special damages and $5 million in exemplary, aggregate or punitive damages.
The allegations have not been proven in court.