Montreal

Family seeks class-action against CHSLD Vigi Mont-Royal for 'gross negligence'

The lawsuit alleges Vigi Santé failed to provide basic care to residents, and did not follow provincial directives to separate suspected and confirmed cases from healthy patients and have staff wear protective equipment.

All patients at private seniors' home were infected with COVID-19, and at least 70 died

Workers are wearing heavy-duty protective equipment, including waterproof gowns, hoods, shoe covers and gloves up to their elbows, after COVID-19 particles were found in the air at Vigi Mont-Royal. (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada)

The family of Olga Sarlis, one of more than 70 residents to die from COVID-19 at a private seniors' home in the Town of Mount Royal, is seeking a class action against the residence's owner.

One hundred per cent of residents, and 148 staff, at the CHSLD Vigi Mont-Royal were infected with the virus, according to internal documents obtained by Radio-Canada earlier this month.

The application alleges that residence owner, Vigi Santé, failed to provide basic care to residents, and did not follow provincial directives to separate suspected and confirmed cases from healthy patients and have staff wear protective equipment.

It also alleges a ventilation system in need of repair caused the virus to spread rapidly through the facility, resulting in a 100 per cent infection rate.

The ventilation system has since been repaired and the Canadian Armed Forces is providing assistance.

"The scale and the speed of the outbreak has really been unprecedented," said Patrick Martin-Menard, who represents the plaintiff. He called the actions of Vigi-Santé "gross negligence."

Canadian Forces personnel wash up before their break at the Vigi Mont-Royal CHSLD seniors residence on May 26. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

"Even in an exceptional situation like a pandemic, they still have obligations toward their patients," Martin-Menard said. "There has to be accountability."

If the lawsuit goes ahead, it will seek $1 million in punitive damages, in addition to tens of thousands of dollars paid out to family members and surviving residents.

Vigi-Santé did not immediately return a request for comment.

This is the third Montreal-area long-term care home to face a lawsuit for how they responded to the COVID-19 pandemic. Lawsuit have been filed against CHSLD Ste-Dorothée in Laval and CHSLD Herron in Dorval.

With files from Valeria Cori-Manocchio

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