Joey Eau Claire restaurant facing $17M class-action lawsuit over COVID-19 outbreak

CALGARY — A $17 million class-action lawsuit has been filed against the Joey restaurant location in Eau Claire, following a COVID-19 outbreak at the restaurant.

The lawsuit against Joey Tomato’s (Canada) Inc. states the business failed to take reasonable steps to protect staff, customers and their immediate families from infection by COVID-19.

“This is about making sure that businesses don’t put their bottom lines ahead of their customers and their workers health,” said Mathew Farrell, partner, Guardian Law Group, which filed the claim. 

If the lawsuit is certified as a class-action, it would represent anyone who contracted the virus within two weeks of dining at Joey, anyone who shared a household with those people who got sick. 

“What it alleges is that this restaurant didn’t do the things that are reasonable and expected of people to take care of each other. As a result, there was an increased risk of transmissibility of COVID-19 and in fact, a whole bunch of people got sick as a result,” said Farrell. 

According to the statement of claim, representative plaintiff Matthew Cornfield and his pregnant spouse dined at the restaurant on March 13, 2021. A week later, he tested positive for COVID-19. His spouse, who was 20 weeks pregnant at the time also tested positive and had to be hospitalized. 

The claim alleges six other people who were close contacts, including Cornfield’s parents and his spouse’s parents, became infected with the virus as a result. Cornfield’s mother-in-law was hospitalized with severe complications. 

Alberta Health said it has been notified of 58 cases linked to the outbreak at Joey Eau Claire. All 58 people have recovered.

The lawsuit alleges the restaurant did not follow proper safety protocols set out by Alberta Health Services.

The lawsuit states the defendant breaches its duty of care for actions including; failing to provide or monitor adequate separation between customers and staff; failing to take reasonable steps to ensure patrons seated together were from the same household or failing to implement adequate procedures for cleaning in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Farrell says the lawsuit sends a message to all businesses. 

“Regulations are one thing but we all have a duty to take care of each other. We all have a duty to do the right thing and do what we can to limit the spread of the virus and do what is reasonable and when you don’t do that and people get hurt then that’s on you.”

Farrell said the damages sought at this point are an estimate. 

Alberta Health said it has been notified of 58 cases linked to the outbreak at Joey Eau Claire. All 58 people have recovered.

Joey emailed a statement to CTV News on Friday afternoon saying…

“We have just learned about this class action lawsuit through the media. We take the safety of our employees and patrons very seriously. We have consistently followed the public health guidelines and recommendations of Alberta Health Services (AHS) and have cooperated fully with AHS in respect of this matter.”

None of the allegations have been tested in court. 

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