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Florida Assisted Living Center Faces COVID Death Lawsuit


A recent lawsuit filed against a Florida assisted living center is precisely the type of lawsuit that will be prevented once Governor Ron DeSantis signs the anti-COVID lawsuit bill into law. Proponents of the measure say that the new legislation is necessary to prevent “junk” lawsuits over COVID claims. However, the legislation actually prevents negligence lawsuits against nursing homes. Below, we’ll discuss why this matters.

Case Study: Wrongful Death at Assisted Living Center 

The reason why nursing homes account for nearly half of all COVID deaths is that employees tracked the illness into the facilities off the streets where it spread like wildfire. While some would claim that there was no way that the employees could have prevented the infection from being introduced to the nursing home, it’s becoming apparent that these facilities didn’t even try. Even as the infection was spreading, many facilities did not so much as separate COVID-positive patients from those who were currently not infected with the illness. This policy, among others, resulted in several preventable deaths. Even basic infection-control protocols, which should be present whether or not we are in a current pandemic, were not followed.

In May, a victim, “Betty” for this article, contracted the coronavirus in her assisted living facility after an outbreak. She was in a memory care ward at the time she contracted the illness. Forty-three other patients from the same memory care unit also contracted the virus. Unless the family can prove that one of the staff breathed on her intentionally while infected with the virus or that the standard of care was so wanting that it constituted a reckless disregard for the residents, this is precisely the type of lawsuit that would be prevented under recently-passed legislation protecting nursing homes from accountability. According to Betty’s family, she is one of ten residents who also died of the coronavirus.

Assessing the Chances of Wrongful Death Under Current Legislation 

In cases where several residents die of coronavirus, there would probably be an investigation performed by the state. If the state decides that the facility was in “substantial compliance” with CDC regulations, the lawsuit would be dismissed. In this case, an investigation revealed that the facility did not follow established CDC guidelines. Still, this costs more for the plaintiff to make a separate pleading based on new law and defend that position. Essentially, the plaintiffs in this lawsuit would argue that the facility failed to follow established guidelines and this resulted in the deaths of their wards.

Is it a good case under the new legislation? It sounds like it’s among the types of cases that the new legislation doesn’t prevent from moving forward. However, under the same gross negligence standard, the plaintiffs would typically be awarded punitive damages. In this case, they probably won’t be.

Talk to a Florida Personal Injury Attorney Today 

If a loved one has been injured in a nursing home, call the Tampa nursing home abuse attorneys at The Matassini Law Firm today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can help.

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