Will Davidson LLP Pursues Claim Against Sunnycrest Nursing Home

In response to the massive toll of the COVID-19 pandemic on residents of Ontario’s nursing homes, Will Davidson LLP has initiated several COVID-19 class action lawsuits, including claims against large operators like Oxford Living, Extendicare, Schlegal Villages, and Southbridge, and against individual facilities such as the Village of Humber Heights, the Wexford Residence, and Sunnycrest Nursing Home.

The lawsuit against Sunnycrest Nursing Home, located in Whitby, Ontario, is among the most recent of these claims. The representative plaintiff in the case is Julia Ratnayake, daughter of Edelvena Smelova, who died in January at the age of 87.

As the COVID-19 pandemic enters its second year and ‘third wave’ in Ontario, it has become difficult not to be numb to the massive pain and suffering it has caused. Thousands of people are dead, each with a unique story and each leaving behind family and friends who loved them.

Edelvena Smelova was born in Moscow and survived the Second World War. After the war, she become a well-respected music educator, according to Toronto.com. Later, she immigrated to Canada and continued her work through volunteer stints at several school boards and various community centres.

“She survived World War II with her mother, helping soldiers and protecting buildings from the fires caused by German bombing raids,” Smelova’s daughter, Julia Ratnayake, told Toronto.com. “She was a loving and dedicated mother, adored grandmother of four and great grandmother of five. She was patient, never complained, and did not want to bother anybody. We are heartbroken knowing that our mother and grandmother spent her last two months alone, without seeing us or feeling our love.”

Families across Ontario have experienced similar heartbreak, made worse by the knowledge that their loved ones’ deaths could likely have been prevented. Many long-term care facilities were blindsided by the first wave of the virus, but their lack of preparedness for subsequent waves was utterly inexcusable.

Sunnycrest is a perfect example of this trend. It has endured three outbreaks since last March, with the most serious occurring between November and January. The facility reported 195 infections and 34 deaths during that period.

“It is simply inexcusable that Sunnycrest was not better prepared to protect vulnerable residents more than nine months into the pandemic,” said Will Davidson LLP Managing Partner Gary Will. “There are many well-run long-term care facilities in the Province of Ontario. In fact, over half of the long-term care facilities in Ontario have no deaths. At the other end of the spectrum, there are a small handful of homes which have accounted for the majority of deaths in long-term care facilities in Ontario. Unfortunately, Sunnycrest did not properly care for its vulnerable residents.”

Our class action lawsuit against Sunnycrest Nursing Home alleges a variety of failures, including inadequate staffing, failure to properly implement anti-infection protocols, failure to conduct screenings, and failure to follow basic health guidelines including physical distancing and sanitation measures. We are seeking $20 million in compensatory damages and $10 million in punitive damages stemming from the facility’s negligence, breach of contract, and breach of fiduciary duty.

Will Davidson LLP is not alone in alleging negligence by Sunnycrest Nursing Home. A provincial inspection report, delivered in November, found that the home had “failed to demonstrate that it was providing a safe and secure environment for its residents during the course of its outbreak.”

Whitby Coun. Steve Yamada has also spoken up against the facility. He told Toronto.com the following:

“When I look at what has happened at Sunnycrest with the fact that PPE (personal protective equipment) was locked up, there was no screener, there was a lack of knowledge to use PPE, it does seem to me that there may be a case to go after this home.”

Our lawsuit against Sunnycrest Nursing Home has gained some media attention lately, both from Toronto.com and the Toronto Sun. We hope that, by continuing to publicize the events that took place at Sunnycrest, we will be able to provide a measure of peace and closure to the families of those that died.

Contact Will Davidson LLP today if you or a member of your family has been affected by a COVID-19 outbreak in a long-term care facility in Ontario. Our team has initiated several COVID-19 class action lawsuits against a variety of long-term care homes, and will continue to pursue these claims to the full extent of the law. We believe that the families of those that died in long-term care during COVID-19 deserve justice and closure.

Image: Shutterstock

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