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COVID-19 Outbreak Prompts Nursing Home Lawsuit in PA

Published on Oct 26, 2020 at 11:33 am in Nursing Home Abuse.

Elderly person holding hands with loved one

A lawsuit against a Pittsburgh-area nursing home has been filed in Pennsylvania state court after a COVID-19 outbreak resulted in infection and death throughout the facility. The lawsuit is claiming the nursing home’s reckless, willful, and wanton conduct is the reason the outbreak took as many lives as it did.

Comprehensive Healthcare Management Services LLC in Beaver County has been accused of negligently operating its facility, Brighton Rehabilitation and Wellness Center, by failing to take proper measures to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus among patients and staff. The lawsuit, filed by Jodi Gill and several others, also claims the nursing home failed to provide staff with personal protective equipment while downplaying the severity of the virus—even as it spread through the facility.

The facility houses more than 330 patients. Over the course of the outbreak, most residents contracted COVID-19 and at least 80 died. As of October 14, 334 patients and 117 staff members have tested positive for COVID-19. The lawsuit, however, has only be filed on behalf of 15 patients—10 of whom died.

According to Tremella Celestin, a certified nursing assistant who worked at the home until late May, Brighton did not perform widespread testing of residents, kept inaccurate records for those who tested positive, and failed to properly quarantine infected residents. According to her declaration, she was typically required to care for more than 40 residents during the 3:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. shift. She was unable to properly do her job because of the understaffing.

The suit notes that it does not fault any frontline workers for the patients’ injuries and deaths, but is seeking both compensatory and punitive damages as a result of negligence, corporate negligence, and wrongful death.

This is not the first lawsuit of this nature to come to fruition against Brighton. Relatives of a housekeeper who contracted the virus and died from the illness filed a wrongful death lawsuit on July 1. It was removed to federal court by Brighton in August.

The attorney for the plaintiffs, Robert Daley, released the following statement to Law360: “It’s an important matter because it helps to protect our most vulnerable, our older citizens. It’s also about what happened before the pandemic. Brighton Rehab was not in a position to handle a COVID-19 outbreak, or any other outbreak. They were caught completely off guard when COVID-19 landed here in western Pennsylvania.”

Brighton has not released an official statement regarding the lawsuit at this time. Legally, the facility can’t claim immunity under the federal Public Readiness and Protection Act because that law does not protect health care providers if they were allegedly negligent.

Nursing homes have a duty to their residents to provide the best possible care. When that does happen and someone is injured or dies, legal recourse may be available. Contact us today for more information.