Rosslyn Retirement Residence in Hamilton facing $30-million class-action lawsuit

The Rosslyn Retirement Residence is now facing a $30-million class-action lawsuit alleging it failed to protect residents from COVID-19. Will Erskine / Global News

Families who lost loved ones and residents who were infected amid a devastating COVID-19 outbreak at the Rosslyn Retirement Residence are taking legal action against the east Hamilton facility.

They have launched a $30-million class-action lawsuit alleging that management of the Rosslyn failed to adequately protect residents from COVID-19.

The statement of claim was filed by Gary Will of Will Davidson LLP on behalf of residents who were infected during the deadly outbreak in May 2020.

Will said the facility was well-known to the Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority (RHRA) before the pandemic, with several complaints, inspections and compliance orders dating back to 2016 when the current owners took over the home.

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“There were complaints, there were investigations, there were warnings given to the owners to straighten up,” said Will.

“This place was totally unprepared. And when COVID hit, the residents of Rosslyn, unfortunately, bore the brunt of that noncompliance and the lack of preparation for this pandemic.”

Allegations in the statement of claim include a failure on the Rosslyn’s part to implement mandatory infection prevention and control measures like COVID-19 screening and physical distancing.

The home also allegedly let potentially COVID-19-positive residents continue to eat meals in the dining room with other residents up until the home was evacuated on May 15, 2020.

Sixty-four out of 66 residents ended up contracting the virus, as well as 22 staff members, and 16 residents lost their lives.

The RHRA revoked the home’s operating licence a month later after a final inspection report found multiple issues had gone unaddressed by management, including inadequate personal protective equipment (PPE) supply and training for staff, a failure to control pest infestations and a manager on-site attempting to obstruct an inspection.

The home’s owners appealed the revocation, with a hearing scheduled for an unspecified date in 2021.

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The statement of claim has not yet been certified but Will said they’ve already met with a judge in Toronto, who has expressed to the parties involved that he wants it to proceed “as quickly as possible.”

A lawyer who has previously represented the Martino family, which owns the home, has not responded to Global News’ request for comment.

The lawsuit’s claim of $30 million includes $20 million in compensatory damages for “negligence, breach of contract and wrongful death,” plus $10 million for “punitive and exemplary or aggravated damages.”

Will said residents and relatives want compensation for the pain caused by the Rosslyn management’s actions, but they also want answers.

“They need to know what occurred and why did it occur,” said Will. “It’s shocking that the family members are totally kept in the dark and do not know what’s happening at these nursing homes. They’re relying on the owners of the nursing homes and the retirement homes to give them complete and accurate information, and that is just not happening.”

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