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Brett Turnbull (left) and Ilya Lerma. (Courtesy photos) Brett Turnbull (left) and Ilya Lerma. (Courtesy photos)

On Dec. 4, The New York Times reported over 106,000 United States coronavirus deaths linked to nursing homes. The Times reported infections topping out at nearly 800,000 at some 28,000 facilities. There is no question that elderly populations in nursing homes are at high risk of infection and death due to age, premorbidities and close proximity in a confined environment. Similarly, staff employees face a higher potential for exposure. Despite these weighty statistics, nearly half of all states have enacted legislation or executive order extending immunity from negligence for nursing homes.

On one side, some consumer and victim’s rights attorneys are troubled with the inability to hold these health care agencies accountable for negligence in preventing the contraction of COVID-19 in its patients. Disavowing all lawsuits for these nursing homes could result in flippant behavior or possibly even a complete disregard for implementing the best safeguards for the patients in prevention of infection. Lawyers who frequently come up against the industry are familiar with the issues caused by systematic underfunding (especially in staffing) resulting in tragic patient outcomes.

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