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Second lawsuit filed against New West pharmacy over alleged reuse of COVID-19 vaccine syringes

Lawsuit stems from vaccinations that took place in August at Kent Pharmacy downtown
Kent Pharmacy sign
A second lawsuit has been filed against Kent Pharmacy on Columbia Street with regards to alleged reuse of syringes during COVID-19 vaccinations in August.

Another proposed class-action lawsuit has been filed against a New Westminster pharmacy for allegedly reusing syringes during the administration of COVID vaccines in the summer.

The lawsuit, filed in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on Nov. 9, stems from vaccinations that took place between Aug. 24 and 26, 2021 at the Kent Pharmacy on Columbia Street.

About a month later (on or about Sept. 22, according to the notice of claim), people who were vaccinated on those days received a letter from Fraser Health advising them that syringes were reused among patients for those vaccinations. Patients were advised to take three blood tests over the following three months – at three weeks, six weeks and three months – because they were at risk of contracting blood-borne illnesses such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV.

The plaintiff named in this notice of claim is Joshua Richard Jonsen, a businessperson who lives in New Westminster.

It’s the second such notice of claim to be filed with regards to the reused syringe issue; on Oct. 13, a similar notice of claim was filed naming the plaintiff Marie Powell, an education assistant from New West.

This second lawsuit names Kent Pharmacy, pharmacists Bhanu Prasad Seelaboyina and Fabina Kara, as well as Fraser Health Authority. Fraser Health was not named in the earlier claim.

Like the earlier lawsuit, this suit is seeking to be certified as a class action, with Jonsen as the representative plaintiff.

Jonsen’s claim says the defendant pharmacists “intentionally committed battery of the plaintiff and class members by injecting them with a needle connected to a reused syringe without their express or implied consent causing them injury, loss and damages.”

It says the affected patients have suffered mental injuries and “such further and other injuries that may become apparent through medical reports and/or blood tests.”

The suit seeks general damages, special damages and punitive damages on the basis of negligence, negligent infliction of emotional distress and battery.

No response to the claim has yet been filed, and the allegations have not yet been tested in court.

B.C. College of Pharmacists has taken action

Seelaboyina has also been the subject of a complaint to the B.C. College of Pharmacists. A complaint outcome posted on the college’s website notes that:

“The registrant has admitted to using the same syringe barrel for multiple patients while administering COVID-19 vaccinations between August 24, 2021 and August 26, 2021. This conduct occurred while he was in a leadership role as a pharmacy manager.”

A College of Pharmacists inquiry committee has reached an agreement with Seelaboyina that places conditions on his practice, pending an investigation into his conduct, “until further notice.”

He is required “to not act in the role of a pharmacy manager” and “to not administer drugs or substances by injection and/or intranasal route.”

The college has also revoked his drug administration certification.

Follow Julie MacLellan on Twitter @juliemaclellan.
Email Julie, jmaclellan@newwestrecord.ca.