Families of nursing home residents who died from Covid-19 are bringing a torrent of negligence and wrongful death lawsuits against the long-term care facilities, according to reports.
Spurred by a repeal of liability protections and statutory deadlines, the Wall Street Journal says a surge of lawsuits accuses nursing homes of failing to adequately curb the spread of disease and treat Covid illnesses.
In the early months of the coronavirus pandemic, New York was the epicenter of infections, which decimated the state’s nursing-home population.
In May 2020, less than two months after the first presumed Covid-19 fatality in a New York nursing home, the pandemic had taken the lives of more than 6,500 facility residents, The Wall Street Journal reported. The death toll was much larger than state leaders initially acknowledged.
New York’s nursing-home industry says the deaths of its residents were beyond its control, particularly in the early days. They point to a lack of personal protective equipment and a controversial state policy requiring facilities to admit residents who tested positive for coronavirus, according to the Journal.
However, that hasn’t stopped dozens of lawsuits filed in the state over the past month. Another spot where the litigation is heating up is in Illinois.
The WSJ reports Levin & Perconti, a Chicago plaintiffs’ firm focusing on medical malpractice litigation, brought 78 cases last month alone.
“It’s going to be a knock-down-drag-out battle,” Steven M. Levin, the founder and senior partner of the firm, told the WSJ. “It’s probably going to take years to get some of these cases to trial.”
Soon it will be up to the courts to decide just how much blame to place on the nursing home facilities. The WSJ spoke to legal observers who say it could be hard for the estates of deceased residents to prove a causal link between alleged lapses in Covid infection control and the deaths of an aging, frail population.
In New York, few cases have progressed beyond the early briefing stages. As a result, there’s plenty of uncertainty about whether plaintiffs will eventually recover damages.
Read more about the Covid nursing home lawsuit at wsj.com (subscription may be required).
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