Lawsuit claims Calgary restaurant’s neglect of COVID-19 protocols resulted in outbreak

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A dozen COVID-19 cases linked to a Calgary restaurant have led to a lawsuit against the establishment’s parent company, which is accused of negligence in doing its part to stop the spread of the virus.

Joey Eau Claire, in the downtown core of the city, was put on Alberta Health Services’ COVID-19 outbreak list last month, with 58 reported cases linked to the restaurant to date, 39 of them being a worrying variant.

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In a statement filed against restaurant owner Joey Tomato’s, Guardian Law Group LLP on Friday, said restaurant staff did not follow AHS regulations and take precautions to ensure the safety of staff and customers, or to notify the appropriate parts of the household.

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The only plaintiff named in the lawsuit and his pregnant wife went to Joey’s restaurant on March 13 for dinner, and a week later both tested positive for COVID-19, according to the statement.

The claim says six of the couple’s close contacts, including their two sets of parents, ultimately tested positive as well. The complainant’s wife and mother both had to be hospitalized due to complications from the disease, and the wife must now be monitored throughout her pregnancy.

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The claim statement then lists more than a dozen failures the restaurant allegedly committed in its COVID-19 security policy, including:

  • Failure to ensure adequate security protocols were in place
  • Failure to warn group members of COVID-19 exposures or infections at Joey’s, and fail to take immediate and comprehensive action to isolate those affected or take other appropriate corrective action
  • Failure to provide or monitor adequate separation between clients, as well as clients and staff
  • Failing to take reasonable steps to ensure that clients seated together belonged to the same household
  • Failing to perform regular testing to prevent the spread of COVID-19
  • Not having personal protective equipment or adequate personal protective equipment
  • Failure to implement and adhere to protocols mandated or recommended by the Alberta Health Services, Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health and the World Health Organization
  • Failure to implement adequate procedures to ensure that staff or personnel or other persons infected or potentially infected with COVID-19 are not permitted to enter Joey or, alternatively, fail to ensure that these procedures were followed
  • Failure to employ and properly train knowledgeable personnel on appropriate, safe, or adequate protocols for caring for people with COVID-19 and preventing the spread
  • Failure to follow proper cleaning and maintenance procedures
  • Failing to take immediate and comprehensive action to notify Alberta health departments, the chief medical officer, or the public of the extent of the COVID-19 infection
  • Failure to ensure clients or family members were properly informed, or not at all, of the COVID-19 outbreak in Joey

The lawsuit seeks $ 17 million in damages from the company Joey Tomato and according to lawyer Mathew Farrell, more than a dozen people have contacted him in connection with the litigation, which lawyers are seeking to have certified as a class action lawsuit.

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“The allegation is that the restaurant did not do things that were under their control, things that were reasonable, in order to minimize the transmission of COVID-19,” Farrell said on Friday.

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In an emailed statement, a spokesperson for Joey Tomato said the company “just learned about this class action lawsuit” on Friday.

“We take the safety of our employees and customers very seriously,” the statement read.

“We have always followed the Alberta Health Services public health guidelines and recommendations and have fully cooperated with AHS in this regard.”

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Joey Eau Claire received two notices of public health violation in March, once on March 6 and again on March 12.

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The outbreak at the restaurant was first declared on March 13.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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