KITCHENER -- Anson Place is one of six long-term care homes included in a proposed class action lawsuit by residents and their families.

It alleges neglect and claims the COVID-19 outbreaks were avoidable.

Ruby McCarroll was one of the residents living at the Hagersville facility. According to court documents, she was sent to hospital after becoming sick on March 23.

Her son says a nurse told him four days later that his mother was gravely ill with COVID-19, and she wasn’t the only one with the virus at Anson Place.

Michael McCarroll says it was the first time he heard of an outbreak at the home or that his mother had even been tested for COVID-19.

Ruby McCarroll died on March 30, seven days after becoming sick.

Her son is now the plaintiff in a proposed class action lawsuit against Anson Place and five other long-term care homes.

Also named in the lawsuit are three homes in Toronto, one each in Mississauga and London.

The total number of deaths at these six facilities represents about 10% of province’s COVID-19-related fatalities.

“The core of the claim is that it should never have started,” says Pinta Maguire of Tyr LLP, a Toronto-based litigation firm. “With appropriate planning, and then once it was started, it should have been identified quickly and extinguished with appropriate plans in place.”

The lawsuit is asking for $15 million in punitive damages, stating the homes didn’t properly prepare for, or respond, to the pandemic.

It alleges the homes weren’t properly screening visitors, there wasn’t enough personal protective gear available, and sick residents weren’t separated from healthy ones.

The lawsuit also claims that families weren’t informed of the situation as the virus spread through the homes, and many didn’t even know their loved ones were sick until it was too late.

“They want answers for the families that have lost loved ones or are unable to speak with their loved ones to this day," says Maguire. "They want answers and they want to hold these corporations accountable.”

Responsive Group, which manages a number of the homes including Anson Place, says in a statement that individuals have the right to advance their concerns through litigation, adding: “All parties in such matters have the opportunity to present information to the court and for it to be reviewed and thoughtfully considered. The court will then have to determine whether a concern merits certification.”

Responsive Group also states that they are working closely with the government, public health units and other healthcare partners to comply with all directives.

None of the allegations have been proven in court and the case has yet to be certified as a class action case.