Guests suing Whitby, Ont. spa, seeking $5M in damages after contamination

TORONTO — Dozens of guests have filed a lawsuit seeking damages from a Toronto-area spa, alleging they experienced health problems following visits to the new facility where staph bacteria was found in a saltwater pool.

A total of 72 plaintiffs named in the civil lawsuit are seeking $5 million in damages from Thermëa Spa Village, located in Whitby, Ont.

The plaintiffs allege they've suffered adverse health effects including severe skin rashes, ear infections, and loss of hearing after using the spa's pools.

A statement of claim filed at the Ontario Superior Court of Justice was served to the spa on Wednesday.

"After the defendants opened Thermëa Spa, patrons began to suffer immediate adverse health reactions, injuires upon the use of the facilities and immediately reported these issues to the defendants," the statement of claim reads.

"During the duration of their visits, the plaintiffs were exposed to harmful contaminants that were in one or more of the pools at Thermëa Spa. Theses contaminants included, but were not limited to, pseudomonas and staphylococcus bacteria."

The lawsuit names 11 defendants including the spa, two of its managers and the corporation that runs it, along with the Regional Municipality of Durham and unidentified inspectors and maintenance workers.

Groupe Nordik, which runs the spa, didn't immediately respond to a request for comment but said in an earlier statement that the spa had traced the source of the problem to malfunctioning UV lamps and disinfectant.

Health inspection results on Durham Public Health's website dated Oct. 14 indicated the Kalla Pool at Thermëa Spa Village was ordered closed. It said the pool may be a health hazard and the operator failed to ensure the public pool was "free from every serious condition."

Other public health inspection records showed issues with the spa's facilities. An Oct. 5 routine inspection of the Kalla pool found the operator failed to maintain required levels of bromine, a sanitizer used in pools.

Groupe Nordik had said it had been inspecting all its equipment and all pools had been closed since Oct. 14.

"Over the last few days, we have gotten to know some of you that have experienced symptoms of a staph infection. We are devastated to hear that this has been your experience of our village," the statement that was posted on social media on Oct. 20 said.

"Please be assured that we took every step we could to ensure that the pool was fully inspected, approved and certified by public health authorities, and regularly tested and staffed by experts."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 17, 2022.

Maan Alhmidi, The Canadian Press