Some experts have estimated that over 1 million Americans have died from the virus that causes Covid-19. Hospitals, nursing homes, and medical providers are not responsible for keeping all patients alive and well during a deadly pandemic, as that would not be possible. Although medical providers are not legally responsible for every death that happens on their watch, if an injury or death is caused, worsened, or not prevented because a medical provider acts negligently, then the injured party or their representatives may have a claim for damages. A recently published news report discusses one such case, in which the family of a woman who died of Covid-19 while living at a nursing home has sued the nursing home for wrongful death.
The plaintiffs in the recently decided case are the relatives of a 65-year-old woman who died of Covid-19 in April of 2020 while residing at a New York nursing home that is operated by the defendant. According to the facts discussed in the plaintiffs’ complaint, the defendant failed to uphold the proper standard of care in treating the patient. Specifically, the complaint alleges that there was an unreasonable delay in diagnosing the patient and that once the diagnosis was made, the nursing home negligently failed to give her the proper treatment for the disease. The complaint alleges that the nursing home’s negligence in failing to properly treat the patient was the ultimate cause of her death.
In response to the plaintiff’s lawsuit, the defendant filed a motion to dismiss, claiming that as a medical provider in a Covid-19 related case, they were immune from suit based on a law passed in 2020 by the state legislature. In response, the plaintiff argued that the immunity law was repealed in 2021 and that the repeal applies retroactively to acts of negligence that occurred in 2020. Because the law was in fact repealed, the court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, and the suit will proceed toward trial.