Owners of three B.C. Interior seniors homes being sued as part of class action lawsuit - InfoNews

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Owners of three B.C. Interior seniors homes being sued as part of class action lawsuit

Summerland Seniors Village is one of the facilities included in a class action lawsuit.
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March 04, 2020 - 12:20 PM

Retirement Concepts, the owner of three seniors care facilities in the B.C. Interior, is the subject of a class action lawsuit.

Retirement Concepts owns Summerland Seniors Village — which was put under administrative control by Interior Health on Feb. 24 — Kamloops Seniors Village and Williams Lake Seniors Village, along with 17 others in B.C.

The suit was filed on Feb. 12 by Victoria lawyer Patrick Dudding. It focuses on the death of a resident of the Waverly Seniors Village in Chilliwack but covers all of Retirement Concepts’ operations.

“Lives are on the line,” Dudding told iNFOnews.ca today, March 4. “Literally, this could be life or death for some of these residents.”

His case centres on Blondine Huebner who died while living in the Waverly in 2017. He alleges she had numerous falls while living there that culminated in what appeared to be an assault that she never recovered from.

The facility is now considered a high risk facility by Fraser Health, he said.

“That’s one of the steps that tends to lead up to the appointment of administrator,” Dudding said. “I wouldn’t be surprised to see an appointment of an administer at the Waverly. That sort of goes for almost all these facilities across the province. The evidence that we have shows that these issues are systemic and affect all Retirement Concepts' facilities.”

He has submitted almost 4,000 pages of documents to the court, including 28 affidavits.

At the core of the lawsuit is the allegation that Retirement Concepts chronically understaffs its 20 facilities in B.C.

“Any crises affecting Retirement Concepts is manufactured by virtue of the fact that they, on a chain-wide basis, tend to under compensate their staff compared to other facilities,” he said. “So, when you’re paying $6 to $7 an hour less for care aids then throw up your hands and say there’s a shortage of care aids, there’s a reason for that. The publicly run facilities of Interior Health, for instance, don’t have that same issue because they pay fair compensation.”

The suit contends that the actions of Retirement Concepts have caused, among other things, mental distress, physical injury and wrongful death.

The provincial Ministry of Health is also named in the suit for its lack of oversight.

No compensation amount has been stated.

Dudding will go to court in June to try to get the suit certified as a class action.

In the meantime, he’s welcoming input from others affected throughout the province to contact his Victoria office at 250-384-6262.

The class action includes “all persons who were resident in care homes owned or operated by Retirement Concepts or predecessor entities at any time after 26 November 2002,” the court filing states.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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