$5.5M settlement in CHSLD Herron class-action lawsuit
Settlement negotiated in last few days; must still be approved by court
A $5.5-million settlement has been reached for residents of CHSLD Herron and their family members in relation to care and services at the private seniors' residence, where many died in the early weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Arthur Wechsler, one of the lawyers representing the plaintiffs, called the settlement "extremely reasonable" and said he hoped it would result in "other settlements in other class actions for residents of CHSLDs."
The class-action lawsuit names as defendants the Herron home itself, a numbered Ontario company, Katasa Group Inc. and Katasa Development Inc.
The agreement, which Wechsler said was concluded in the last few days, must still be approved at a Superior Court of Quebec hearing on April 30.
Wechsler said although the situation took place within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, it served to expose conditions that had already existed. The lawsuit "wasn't based on COVID," he said. "It was based on what we allege was the negligent treatment provided to the most frail and vulnerable in these residences."
Dozens of residents died at the home in the first weeks of the pandemic. Staff shortages there meant many residents were left undernourished, neglected and stranded in soiled beds.
The settlement applies to people who were residents of the long-term care home between March 13 and May 31, 2020, liquidators of the estates of those who died during that period, and surviving spouses and children.
Wechsler said he was hopeful that payments could be made by the end of this year.
Moira Davis, whose father Stanley Pinnell died at CHSLD Herron in April 2020, said the settlement amount was inadequate and that "there's not enough money in the world" to compensate for what her father experienced.
"He was in his mid 90s, he had a host of health issues, but he sure as heck didn't deserve to die like that or to suffer during that time."
She said she still holds local health authorities and the provincial government responsible in addition to the home's owners.
"I still think that there should be class action lawsuits against the various levels of the Quebec government, because I don't think they're going to change," she said.
In November 2020, CHSLD Herron's owners announced they were closing the home and that the remaining residents would be relocated.
Last month, the coroner presiding over a public inquiry into CHSLD deaths during the pandemic delayed hearings related to CHSLD Herron until the fall.
The lawyer for the owners had argued that if the inquiry went ahead as planned, it would be unfair to her clients, given that Quebec's Director of Criminal and Penal Prosecutions (DCPC) hasn't made a decision on whether to file criminal charges against them.
Katasa Group did not immediately return a request for comment Wednesday.
With files from Jay Turnbull