LONDON (AP) — A woman whose elderly father died in an England care home won Thursday the first stage of a lawsuit against the British government over alleged failures to protect nursing home residents during the coronavirus pandemic.

The government and health authorities had asked the High Court to dismiss the case, but Justice Thomas Linden granted Cathy Gardner permission for a full hearing of her legal challenge. The judge said he considered it “in the interests of justice for the claim to be heard.”

Gardner’s father, Michael Gibson, died at the Oxfordshire County care home in April. The cause of his death was recorded as “probably COVID.”

Gardner argued that her father was one of an estimated 20,000 care home residents in Britain who lost their lives to the coronavirus during the spring and that many of the deaths could have been prevented if the government had acted differently.

“Rather than protect them, the government made their care homes a death trap,” she wrote on a website where she was seeking crowdfunding for her lawsuit.

Gardner’s lawyer, Jason Coppel, said the British government’s lack of timely and adequate measures to protect vulnerable care home residents was “one of the most egregious and devastating policy failures of recent times.” He argued that the decision to discharge hospital patients into care homes without testing or quarantine arrangements allowed the virus to spread.

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Lawyers for the government and health authorities argued that hospital discharges were not a key cause or driver of coronavirus infections in care homes.

Gardner said she expected a trial to take place next spring.

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