$56 Million Settlement Reached in Massachusetts Veterans’ Home Case
Massachusetts recently agreed to pay a $56 million settlement to families and survivors following the negligent management of COVID-19 outbreaks at Holyoke Soldiers’ Home for veterans. The facility was deemed to have shown deliberate indifference during an early pandemic outbreak, including overcrowding facilities and co-mingling infected and uninfected residents. (The New York Times)
Nursing homes and long-term care facilities have been granted immunity protection from liability in many states during the pandemic. However, several lawsuits—including class actions against state-run homes—are now seeking to hold negligent facilities accountable.
Background on the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home Lawsuit in Massachusetts
A report about an independent investigation conducted for the Governor of Massachusetts details inhumane conditions and a failure to implement infection control measures at Holyoke Soldiers’ Home in 2020. Due to limited staffing, the facility took several actions that directly placed uninfected patients at risk of exposure to infected patients. In an especially careless act, facility managers consolidated two units of dementia care patients—a total of 40 people—into one room designed to hold only 25.
Nurses and other staff at the facility described the environment at Holyoke as one of “pandemonium.”
According to information from the Office of the Governor, the state will pay a minimum of $400,000 per family in qualifying cases and a minimum of $10,000 for individuals who survived their illness while at Holyoke. Families of veterans and surviving individuals who resided at Holyoke Soldiers’ Home between March 1, 2020, and June 23, 2020, will be eligible for settlement proceeds. Families are eligible if they lost a loved one during that time; individual veterans can seek damages if they were ill from COVID-19.
Lawsuits Hold Nursing Homes Accountable
The Holyoke Soldiers’ Home case is one of several major lawsuits targeting nursing homes for negligence during the pandemic. In a similar case, New Jersey agreed in December 2021 to pay families nearly $53 million for gross negligence in another state-run facility for veterans. In two of the homes, more than 200 residents died from COVID-19—some of the highest death numbers for nursing home facilities in the country. (NJ.com)
While many states provided liability protections for civil cases against nursing homes during the pandemic, some states have begun lifting those protections or modifying their terms.
In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo passed the Treatment Protection Act in late 2021. The legislation once prevented nursing home facilities, administrators, and executives from facing responsibility for damages and harm at long-term care facilities. (The Hill) Both class action lawsuits and individual civil claims are now being filed for long-term care facilities’ negligence in the state. (WKBW-TV)
You Can Get Legal Help to File a Lawsuit Against a Nursing Home
If you lost a loved one to the COVID-19 pandemic and a nursing home’s negligence contributed to your loved one’s suffering, you could take legal action. Many injury law firms offer free case reviews to victims or their surviving family members. Fill out a contact form to connect with a nursing home lawsuit law firm in our network.