TORONTO – A proposed class action lawsuit against a leading nursing home company now covers all facilities, including those hardest hit by COVID-19, and claims more than $ 200 million in damages, according to a new lawsuit.
The unproven claim alleges that Extendicare failed to respond properly to the pandemic and negligently cared for residents.
“Plaintiffs allege that the defendants behaved reprehensibly and incomprehensibly by failing to implement an appropriate COVID-19 response plan,” the lawsuit alleges.
“The defendants have had no or inadequate implementation of an appropriate infection control program in the past.”
A similar $ 500 million lawsuit announced Wednesday also named Extendicare as well as other long-term care providers across Ontario such as Chartwell and Sienna Senior Living.
The unproven claim also names the government of Ontario along with several cities such as Toronto, Essex, Ottawa and Hamilton. The lawsuit is the first to claim multiple branches of government are responsible for COVID-19 deaths, lawyers said.
Extendicare owns or operates 71 long-term care facilities in Ontario. At least 73 residents died of COVID-19 – one of the hardest-hit long-term care facilities in Canada – in one of its homes, the Tendercare Living Center in east Toronto.
A second Extendicare-operated facility, Orchard Villa in Pickering, Ontario, has suffered at least 70 deaths, according to the latest province data.
The proposed lead plaintiff, Peggy Hannon, is a disabled resident of the West End Mansion in Ottawa. Your entitlement would include all residents of an Extendicare facility as of January 25, 2020, or if they have died since then, their property. Hannon’s daughter Suzanne Zagallai suggests representing relatives.
“Extendicare owns or manages the two most damaged long-term care facilities in Ontario,” Stephen Birman, one of the plaintiffs’ attorneys, said in a statement. “Extendicare continues to be cited for infection control violations.
In a statement on Wednesday, the company said it would respond to the allegations through “appropriate legal channels” in due course.
“Our focus is currently solely on providing high quality care to our residents and supporting our families and team members,” the statement said. “Our hearts go out to our community and to those who have lost their loved ones to this virus.”
In accordance with the company’s profile, the company’s 23,000 employees operate or provide contract services for a network of 122 nursing homes and retirement homes.
The proposed Extendicare class action lawsuit was originally filed against West End Villa in Ottawa only in September, requesting $ 16 million.
Since then, COVID-19 has ravaged other facilities, including Tendercare. Among those who recently died there was Ping Qiu.
“We have a lot of questions about why Tendercare wasn’t prepared for wave two and why Tendercare couldn’t protect my grandmother,” said Reed Zhao, her grandson, in a statement.
As recently as last month, Tendercare was cited on a government inspection following a deadly COVID-19 outbreak affecting residents and employees for violating infection prevention protocols. Problems included “inconsistent” controls and an inconsistent supply of protective equipment.
“As a result,” the inspection report reads, “the disease quickly spread throughout the home and there have been a number of deaths among residents and also a number of residents who tested positive.”
Extendicare’s most recent annual financial statements show that long-term care income rose to $ 523.4 million in the nine months ended September 30, 2020, down from $ 477.1 million in the same period last year. The company also recently announced that shareholders would receive $ 0.04 per share for December.
In a tweet last June, new Democratic leader Jagmeet Singh condemned Extendicare for short-term residents for the benefit of shareholders.
“During the worst of the crisis, Extendicare gave $ 10 million to shareholders when they only spent $ 300,000 on care for the elderly and died while dozens of seniors were in their care,” said Singh.
Plaintiffs also note that Extendicare Care paid US $ 38 million in a settlement in October 2014, following an investigation into some US facilities. Soon after, the company announced the sale of its American portfolio for $ 870 million.
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on January 13, 2021.