Pennsylvania nursing home is accused of four counts of wrongful death.
A new medical liability lawsuit against Milton Nursing and Rehabilitation Facility alleges its top-level staff acted with “gross negligence” and “outrageous conduct leading to the death of a nursing home resident who died of COVID-19.” The suit was filed on behalf of Kenetha Guyer, the daughter of Jeffrey C. Markle, 63, who passed away from coronavirus complications in August. It specifically states no claims are being made against frontline staff who attempted to fulfill their duties despite being chronically “understaffed, improperly supervised and ill-equipped due to Defendants.”
The nursing home is being accused of four counts of wrongful death, including “consciously deciding not to provide sufficient staffing, training, equipment and resources to safely operate amidst the pandemic.” The lawsuit states further, “Milton Nursing and its owners, operators and managers…failed, according to the lawsuit, to establish and maintain an infection prevention and control program, adequate written policies and procedures, and failed to uphold standards set by state and federal regulations guiding the operation of nursing homes.”
The suit cites Pennsylvania Department of Health inspection findings which support its claims, including that staff “permitted symptomatic staff to work with test results pending that ultimately returned positive for COVID-19.” It names its owners, operators and managers, including Milton Operating LLC, MAPA Operating LLC and MAPA Management Company, MIMA Healthcare LLC of Cherry Hill, N.J. and Bedrock Care LLC of Pomona, N.Y.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health found that the facility failed to protect both its frontline staff and residents by refusing to implement safety procedures to stop spread of COVID-19. As a result, a rapid infection spread throughout the site, taking the lives of nearly three dozen residents. The department noted at the time of its visit, “59 staff members and 108 residents tested positive for the disease.”
“As a result of Defendants’ negligent, grossly negligent, reckless and outrageous conduct in the operation of its Milton Facility, in excess of 90% of the residents contracted COVID-19 and approximately one-third of those residents, including Plaintiff’s Decedent, died due to COVID-19,” the lawsuit states.
Markle, who suffered from Parkinson’s disease, was admitted to the nursing home in July after a fall at home. When Milton took him in, Markle was also being treated for pneumonia and dehydration. He tested positive for the coronavirus in mid-August, but his family “wasn’t notified until the next day and weren’t provided information about his condition, a plan for treatment or the opportunity to speak with a staff physician,” according to the lawsuit. Four days later, Markle was transferred to Evangelical Community Hospital for treatment.
“Milton staff transferred Decedent to the hospital without informing Decedent’s family members or representatives,” the lawsuit states. “Milton staff never informed Decedent’s family members and representatives that Decedent’s condition was worsening in any manner.”
At the time of admission, he had a temperatures 104.9 degrees Fahrenheit and was in acute respiratory failure. The intensity of the viral infection was amplified by Markel’s other conditions and he died nine days later. The plaintiff is seeking compensatory and punitive damages of $50,000 for each count listed in the suit.