Family of Roberta Place resident launches $50M class-action lawsuit

Roberta Place in Barrie, Ont., has seen a startling rise in COVID-19 cases at its long-term care home recently, as well as 53 deaths in just the last few weeks.

Families of Roberta Place residents now want answers and a class action lawsuit seeking $50 million in damages against Barrie Long Term Care Centre Inc, Jarlette Holdings Inc., Jarlette Limited, and Roberta Place Retirement Lodge Inc. has been started.

Marcella Lambie is the representative plaintiff and she is acting as litigation guardian for her brother, George Head. Mr. Head has been diagnosed with COVID-19 and his condition is deteriorating.

Ms. Lambie and others want to hold Roberta Place accountable for what they describe as “gross negligence” in failing to keep their residents safe from the virus. Nearly all residents have tested positive for COVID-19.

An inspection conducted earlier this month found that the home failed to follow proper protocols to keep residents safe, allowing rooms to be shared by both confirmed positive COVID-19 patients and those who had not yet tested positive for the virus.

An inspector with the Ministry of Long-Term Care said they observed staff and resident cohorting protocols not being followed, in an inspection report dated Jan. 18, 2021.

Following the inspection, which was carried out on Jan. 12 and Jan. 13, the Ministry of Long-Term Care found that the “licensee has failed to ensure that the home was a safe and secure environment for its residents.”

“The inspector identified resident rooms that were shared by both confirmed COVID-19 positive residents and residents not confirmed to have COVID-19. A personal support worker (PSW) indicated that residents within these shared rooms would often come into close contact with each other,” the inspection report states.

“Certain staff were providing care to both confirmed COVID-19 positive residents and residents not confirmed to have COVID-19. The administrator indicated that cohorting of staff on all resident home areas was not always possible.”

The inspector also noted that the home did not strictly follow the directive to place all residents in isolation under droplet and contact precautions.

Currently, there are 128 active COVID-19 cases among residents in the long-term care home, which has 137 total beds available. There are also 84 active COVID-19 cases among staff members.

Sadly, 53 residents and one essential caregiver have died following the outbreak. Families are looking for answers.

“How can this happen at a private care facility nearly one year into a pandemic?” asks Ms. Lambie whose brother pays over $2,700 per month to reside at Roberta Place. “We should expect more from our long-term care homes and we should also hold them accountable for what they’ve done.”

Gayle Brock, from Brock Medical Malpractice Law, one of the lead lawyers in the case advised that “Ms. Lambie started this lawsuit because she entrusted Roberta Place to care for her brother and to protect him. Roberta Place is his home, and it failed him”.

Ms. Brock confirmed that the lawsuit has been started and the owners of Roberta Place will have to respond to the lawsuit in the near future.

Any questions regarding the class-action lawsuit should be directed to Gayle Brock at Brock Medical Malpractice Law, 705-739-4022, or Robert Durante at Oatley Vigmond, 705-726-9021,

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