Whistleblower sues health authority and lawyers, alleging identity revealed

A whistleblower who sounded the alarm about financial mismanagement, nepotism and fraud at a West St. Paul personal care home is suing the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority and three lawyers after the person's identity was allegedly revealed in court documents.

Personal care home employee raised alarm bells in 2011 about financial mismanagement

A former employee of the Middlechurch Home of Winnipeg, above, who blew the whistle about financial irregularities at the personal care home, is now suing the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority and three lawyers. The whistleblower alleges their identity was revealed in court documents.

A whistleblower who sounded the alarm about financial mismanagement, nepotism and fraud at a West St. Paul personal care home is suing the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority and three lawyers after the person's identity was allegedly revealed in court documents.

The whistleblower, known as "Jean Doe" in a statement of claim filed Wednesday in Manitoba's Court of Queen's Bench, is suing for an undisclosed amount of money for mental distress, psychiatric illness, depression, embarrassment and fear for their safety.

Doe is a former employee of the Middlechurch Home of Winnipeg, located just north of Winnipeg in West St. Paul.

The whistleblower alerted the Manitoba ombudsman in 2011 about alleged wrongdoing by the home's management and then executive director, Laurie Kuivenhoven, who the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority fired in 2013.

Affidavit revealed identity: lawsuit

In court documents, a lawyer for Doe alleges the whistleblower's identity was compromised in June 2015 when the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, through two lawyers, delivered an affidavit to Kuivenhoven, who was in the process of suing for wrongful dismissal.

It's alleged the affidavit disclosed documents and information which contained personal information about Doe.

"The malicious, high-handed, callous and/or arrogant conduct of the defendants … displays a wanton, reckless and flagrant disregard for the rights of the plaintiff," the statement of claim alleges.

'Highly offensive'

The lawsuit alleges the WRHA's lawyers failed to expunge information from documents that identified the whistleblower and that Rod Roy, a lawyer for Kuivenhoven, didn't take measures to protect Doe's privacy.

It also alleges Roy intentionally intruded on the whistleblower's privacy in a way that would be "highly offensive to a reasonable person," by reading the 2015 affidavit documents.

The statement of claim says Doe is seeking damages that would ensure Roy is "appropriately punished" for his conduct.

Roy, speaking for himself and on Kuivenhoven's behalf, declined to comment on this story when reached by phone Thursday.

A spokesperson for the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority said she couldn't discuss a matter that's before the courts.

The health authority took over the Middlechurch Home and its 197 beds in 2014. It was previously a registered charity in West St. Paul.

About the Author

Austin Grabish

Reporter

​Austin Grabish is a reporter for CBC News in Winnipeg​ where he files for TV, web and radio. ​​Born and raised in Manitoba, Austin has had an itch for news since he was young. He landed his first byline when he was just 18. Before joining CBC, he reported for several outlets with work running across the country. He studied human rights in university and holds both a degree and diploma in communications.​ Connect with him here: austin.grabish@cbc.ca