One of the defendants in Richmond’s “birth tourist” lawsuit has applied for extra time to file a response to the allegations.
Jie Zheng is accused of misrepresenting the level of antenatal and/or perinatal care and expertise her Richmond “birthing house” would be giving the wife and child of claimant Peng Chen.
The Richmond News reported last year how Chen, who flew in from China with his wife in 2018 so their child could be born in Canada, filed a lawsuit on behalf of his infant son, Stephen.
Chen claimed his son was born at Richmond Hospital with complications and alleged that two doctors — Brenda Tan and Balbinder Gill — as well as Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH), were negligent in the provision of medical care to Stephen and his mother, Rang Heng.
He further alleged that Zheng — who operated or worked at ABC, a birthing house on Ash Street in Richmond — took advantage of the fact that he had “little or no knowledge of the health-care system in Canada” and that he was “particularly vulnerable” to the alleged misrepresentations from Zheng.
However, Zheng, who had not filed a response in the allotted time, recently applied to the BC Supreme Court asking for an opportunity to respond, claiming that she and her family were living in China when the lawsuit was filed in 2020.
Defendant claims mail was not being forwarded to her in China
While out of the country, Zheng claimed the four tenants renting her property were instructed to forward her mail, but had failed to do so.
It wasn’t until January of this year that a new tenant forwarded her correspondence with regard to the court proceedings.
Zheng further claims to have no knowledge of the aforementioned ABC business, had nothing to do with assisting Chinese citizens give birth in Canada and that the only service she offered was room and board and not any medical care.
Chen’s lawsuit makes references to complications at the time of his son’s birth, resulting in his child being in the intensive care unit for several days afterwards.
Chen, a resident of China, claims that, as a result of the doctors and hospital’s negligence, his son suffered brain damage, seizures, delayed growth and development, cerebral palsy and cognitive impairment.
All of the allegations in the lawsuit are denied by the parties involved.
So-called “birth tourism” refers to the legal, tried and trusted practice of expectant mothers arriving in Canada to purposely give birth here, due to children being born in Canada automatically receiving citizenship.