Sunday 26 December 2021

New Jersey Will Pay $53 Million over Coronavirus Deaths at State-Run Veterans Homes

New Jersey is set to pay approximately $53 million in settling claims its negligence contributed to the deaths of over 100 veterans in state-run homes amid the coronavirus pandemic, attorneys announced Thursday.

NBC Philadelphia reported:

The settlement reached this week involved the families of 119 residents of veterans homes in Paramus and Menlo Park, according to attorney Paul da Costa. Da Costa’s firm represented 72 of the claimants, who will receive about $32 million in total. The families had filed notices of intent to sue but hadn’t yet formally filed lawsuits, da Costa said.

“This settlement of course does not replace their lost loved ones who served their countries honorably, but it certainly represents a good measure of civil justice,” da Costa said. “My clients do take satisfaction in the fact that there has been a resolution that they believe gives a voice to their lost loved ones.”

Over 200 residents in the homes died amid the pandemic, and Gov. Phil Murphy’s (D) administration was heavily criticized in April last year after instructing the homes not to turn away patients who tested positive for the illness.

The order was eventually rescinded, according the the NBC article.

In May 2020, New Jersey Democrats were silent regarding Murphy’s decision to place coronavirus patients in nursing homes, Breitbart News reported at the time.

“The rising problem of coronavirus deaths prompted New Jersey state Senate Republicans to call for an investigation into the coronavirus outbreak at New Jersey nursing homes,” the outlet said.

In September last year, approximately 100 people gathered outside Veterans Memorial Home at Menlo Park to demand an investigation into the virus deaths, reported.

Video showed participants holding balloons and photos of their loved ones:

The Justice Department later issued a letter to Murphy asking about its nursing home death count, saying it was launching an investigation into the state’s veterans homes “after receiving what it described as incomplete answers to an earlier request for data,” the NBC report continued.

In the beginning of the pandemic, the state took measures to protect long-term care facilities such as veterans homes from liabilities for basic negligence if they were thought to be acting in good faith amid the health emergency.

The move “raised the bar” for possible lawsuits, according to attorney Scott Piekarsky, who is with a firm representing multiple families of veterans who previously lived inside the Paramus facility and whose claims accused it of gross negligence.

“These weren’t easy, slam dunk cases, but we felt we had enough and we were going to stay the course,” Piekarsky told NBC, adding, “The state did the right thing in not putting these families through years and years of litigation.”

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