Montreal

Family of woman who died at CHSLD Herron files lawsuit against residence

The daughter of a woman who died after contracting the coronavirus at CHSLD Herron in Dorval wants to pursue the private residence in a class action lawsuit, claiming at least $2 million in damages. 

Lawsuit application says Herron owners 'subjected the residents of the CHSLD Herron to neglect, mistreatment'

Barbara Schneider's mother, Mary, was diagnosed with COVID-19 and died soon after, at 93 years old. Schneider said she had extreme difficulty making contact before her mother died. (CBC)

The daughter of a woman who died after contracting the coronavirus at CHSLD Herron in Dorval wants to pursue the private residence in a class-action lawsuit, claiming at least $2 million in damages to be divided among residents. 

Barbara Schneider says the residence's officials left their staff and residents in the lurch, without taking appropriate measures to deal with the potentially deadly virus as it spread through the home. 

The result was degrading and inhumane treatment, she says. Staff members and families of residents at the home had told CBC News many of the seniors living there were left unfed and untended to for hours. 

The local health authority, the West Island CIUSSS, took over management at the CHSLD Herron on March 29.

Schneider's mother, Mary Schneider, died April 10, at 93, after testing positive for COVID-19.

Thirty-one people died at the home in less than a month.

CHSLD Herron is now the subject of a criminal investigation by Montreal police, as well as a coroner's inquest.

Schneider's lawsuit application claims the owners "subjected the residents of the CHSLD Herron to neglect, mistreatment, pain and discomfort, and have robbed them of their dignity."

The lawsuit application must be approved by a judge. 

Many of the 31 deaths took place after the CIUSSS stepped in, but one of the lawyers representing Schneider, Adam Weschler, says the lawsuit targets the owners of Herron because of their contractual obligation to care for residents.

Mary Schneider, left, with her daughter Barbara, centre, and son-in-law Andy Deak. Mary Schneider died April 10 at the private CHSLD Herron in Dorval, after testing positive for COVID-19. (Submitted to Radio-Canada)

"You're paying a significant amount of money, thousands of dollars per month, and they have been denied their basic rights and suffer tragic consequences as a result of this treatment," Weschler said in a phone interview.

The facility is owned by Katasa Group, a company based in Gatineau, Que., owned by Samir Chowieri and his three daughters. The company runs seven elder-care facilities in the province.

In a recent statement, the company said its employees have made "extraordinary efforts" since the COVID-19 crisis began and their calls for help were ignored by the West Island CIUSSS.

Mary Schneider was admitted to CHSLD Herron about three weeks before the COVID-19 crisis took hold in Montreal.

Barbara Schneider said she visited her mother regularly until the residence closed to visitors because of the pandemic. After that, she had extreme difficulty making contact.

A woman and a man hold up a signs outside CHSLD Herron, a long-term care home in Dorval, Que., last Saturday. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

"Anybody that tried to reach her was unable to reach her," Schneider told CBC last week.

A nurse finally helped her talk to her mother by video chat, she said. Schneider was shocked by the condition she saw her mother in.

"She was frail. And she was so gaunt," Schneider said. "From when she went in to this last time was like day and night."

With files from Jay Turnbull and Kate McKenna

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