A Decatur, Georgia nursing home negligence lawyer provides the details
Families who have filed COVID-19 lawsuits against nursing home operators alleging negligence and wrongful deaths scored a major legal victory when a federal court ruled on Oct. 21 that a case can proceed against two New Jersey facilities. The ruling could open the doors for similar lawsuits nationwide against nursing homes, where an estimated 100,000 people have died during the pandemic.
The state of Georgia stopped reporting COVID-related deaths in nursing homes in early March. Even then, though, the numbers were frightening:
- 40,087 reported cases
- 4,178 deaths
- 693 facilities involved
The cases in question were filed in New Jersey in April 2020 by families of four residents who died of COVID-19. They sued two nursing homes over allegations that the facilities failed to take precautions to contain the spread of the deadly virus.
The nursing homes had argued that the claims belonged in federal court instead of state court. The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia rejected that argument.
Said Adam Pulver of Public Citizen Litigation Group, a consumer advocacy group that filed an amicus brief with the appeals court: “By being the first appeals court to weigh in, the 3rd Circuit signaled to judges around the country that these appeals are unlikely to succeed and there is no reason to stop cases from moving forward while the nursing homes appeal.”
A look behind the ruling
The New Jersey cases were among the first filed against nursing homes. Like similar lawsuits, the cases had been delayed over complex legal arguments about which court should have jurisdiction.
Specifically, the nursing homes claimed they were protected from lawsuits by the U.S. Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act. The emergency law was enacted in 2005 to shield those fighting a pandemic from lawsuits, such as makers of critical products, doctors, and drug distributors.
The nursing homes likewise sought protection under the PREP Act, based on the assertion that they were on the front line of the outbreak. They wanted the cases transferred to federal court. The 3rd Circuit's ruling said the families suing the nursing homes “asserted only garden-variety state-law claims, so state court is where these cases belong.”
When you need help seeking justice
The grief of losing a loved one is even worse when you realize that their death was avoidable, as is the case for thousands who have perished because nursing homes were too incompetent or uncaring to protect residents from COVID-19. As the legal battle in New Jersey demonstrates, making the people responsible for your loss is complicated and far beyond the means of the average person. You want those people to answer for their negligence and to spare other families from feeling the same pain. But where do you even start?
At Kurle Justus, LLC, we know how to handle nursing home abuse and neglect cases and fight for the justice our clients deserve. Based in Decatur, we have been serving victims and their families throughout Georgia since 2004. Attorney Jennifer Kurle worked in the health care field for 10 years before becoming a lawyer and is uniquely qualified to handle these types of cases. We bring a unique perspective, attention to detail, medical experience, and a dedicated sense of compassionate professionalism to your case while launching our own thorough investigation. Contact us today for a free consultation.