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Coroner refuses Montreal family's request for new investigation into woman's ER death

A sign for a hospital in Montreal, Sunday, Feb. 6, 2022. The Quebec coroner's office has rejected a request by a Montreal family to launch a new investigation into the death of an 86-year-old Filipino woman found lifeless on the floor of a Montreal-area emergency room last year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

MONTREAL — The Quebec coroner’s office has rejected a request by a Montreal family for a new investigation into the death of an 86-year-old Filipino woman found lifeless on the floor of an emergency room last year.

Coroner Amelie Lavigne acted with “rigour” and “integrity” in her investigation into the death of Candida Macarine, the office said in a Nov. 17 letter addressed to a civil rights group that is working with the family. The case will not be reopened, the coroner's office said.

Montreal-based civil rights group Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations is helping the family file complaints against the attending doctors and nurses at the hospital. The family is also considering filing a civil suit against the hospital and applying for judicial review of the decision to deny them a second inquiry.

“Eventually, there’s going to be a civil lawsuit against the hospital and the medical staff involved because we feel this is a case of gross negligence leading to death and unnecessary pain and grief for the family," Fo Niemi, executive director for the civil rights group, said in an interview Wednesday. 

"Especially with the fact that the family was not informed that the mother was found dead on the floor of the ER for almost 10 days after her passing,” he said.

In an emailed statement, coroner's office spokesperson Jake Lamotta-Granato said, “Following the concerns expressed by the family, the coroner took the time to conduct a full review of the investigation and concluded that there was no need to reopen the file."

Macarine’s children, Gilda and Emmanuel Macarine, told a news conference on Wednesday that the decision by the coroner’s office was disappointing and felt like a slap in the face. 

“I feel bad," Gilda Macarine said in an interview later in the day. "I feel that we are being neglected. I feel that discrimination has had an impact on this case because we are immigrants, so who cares about us here? My family is very sad, and we want to continue seeking truth and justice."

Lavigne concluded in September that Candida Macarine died of natural causes, and the coroner found no evidence of negligence on the part of staff at the Lakeshore General Hospital, on the Island of Montreal.

The family has said that Lavigne’s four-page report indicated that Macarine was left unattended in the hospital for prolonged periods. They have said the 86-year-old needed to be checked every 15 minutes but that 30 minutes had passed between checks when staff found her on the floor of the hospital in February 2021. The family has also questioned why she was not transferred to intensive care after blood tests showed an elevated risk of cardiac arrest. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2022.


This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship. 

Marisela Amador, The Canadian Press