Fighting Immunity

The Ames

Martha and William Ames died of COVID at the Villages of Orleans Health and Rehabilitation Center. The family asserts the facility lacked infectious control policies, safe staffing, or enough personal protective equipment to maintain the health, safety, and well-being of the residents. At least, 15,000 residents statewide died from Covid-19.

The family’s lawsuit also states the Ames suffered from malnutrition, dehydration, urinary tract infections, and injuries of unknown origins. However, nursing homes and hospitals have immunity for neglect and abuse from March 2020 through April 2021. The lawsuit will challenge the immunity New York granted to negligent facilities. The Ames’ daughter Susan A. Fuller said:

“Things were bad at that nursing home way before the pandemic and things were exacerbated with the pandemic. It is definitely their fault my mom and dad died of Covid.”

Ana Martinez

New York’s powerful health care lobbyists are fighting against neglected nursing home residents. The Greater New York Hospital Association and NYS Health Care Association challenge the lawsuit filed by Vivian Zayas for her mother, Ana Martinez. Our Lady of Consolation nursing home’s poor infection control caused her wrongful death from COVID. Zayas wants to hold the facility accountable. Attorney Brett Leitner said:
“Only after it was uncovered that they were hiding the amount of deaths, and after the AG Letitia James blasted the nursing homes for their reckless conduct, were we able to repeal this ridiculous law which stripped thousands of grieving families of their right to sue,” he said.

Bottom Line

The immunity provision did provide a narrow exception. The law allows lawsuits when “harm or damages were caused by…willful or intentional criminal misconduct, gross negligence, reckless misconduct, or intentional infliction of harm…”  However, the law contains an exception to the exception for short-staffed facilities. Why?

Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Queens) believes:

“The hospitals and nursing homes are trying to protect their bottom line. It has nothing to do with the needs of patients or residents. The immunity law I believe was unconstitutional and should never have happened.”

These immunity laws are unnecessary. Giving blanket immunity is unconstitutional. A jury should decide these cases.