A proposed class-action lawsuit against long-term care facilities that have experienced a COVID-19 outbreak is too broad and does not distinguish between the most affected facilities and those that have had few infections, a lawyer for Quebec health authorities argued Thursday.
Jonathan Desjardins-Mallette said the application for a class action against the provincial government should not be approved because the proposed class includes too many people who have no cause of action.
The proposed lawsuit, Desjardins-Mallette said, often refers to large outbreaks of COVID-19 at specific long-term care facilities and asks the court to infer that the problems at those facilities were applicable across the network — regardless of the severity of the illness. infection.
“There is no systemic character here,” he told Quebec Superior Court Judge Donald Bisson. “On the contrary, every long-term care center, every facility has experienced a unique situation.”
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A lawyer seeking permission to file a lawsuit earlier this week argued that Quebec’s failure to plan for the arrival of the new coronavirus as it began to spread in other parts of the world led to preventable deaths during the first waves of COVID-19.
If approved, Patrick Martin-Ménard said the lawsuit would also include family members of residents who died during the outbreaks and could include tens of thousands of people seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in damages.
More than 5,000 people died in Quebec long-term care centers during the first two waves of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The lead prosecutor in the case is Jean-Pierre Daubois. His 94-year-old mother, Anna Jose Maquet, died in April 2020 at Ste-Dorothée Long-Term Care Center in Laval, Que., during an outbreak that infected more than 200 residents. The resort experienced massive staff shortages during this period, during which 101 residents died.
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Desjardins-Mallette argued that the Ste-Dorothée outbreak was not representative of what happened across the province, describing it as a major crisis and adding that the experiences of residents there cannot be extrapolated to other facilities that have experienced outbreaks consisting of fewer than two cases.
He also spoke out against the proposed time period covered by the class action — between March 2020 and March 2021. Some long-term care centers, such as the Center d’hébergement De Chauffailles in Quebec’s Bas St-Laurent region, have had zero cases of COVID-19 in the first wave and two in the second.
“It’s hard to do better,” Desjardins-Mallette said of the nursing home’s handling of the pandemic. There is no evidence in the class action filing to suggest there was wrongdoing against the two residents who caught the virus in the second wave, he said.
Like all class actions, the lawsuit must be approved by a judge before it can proceed.
Lawyers for Quebec’s attorney general are scheduled to argue Friday against allowing the case.
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