The nephew of a man who died from coronavirus at a Sussex County nursing home where authorities found 17 bodies in a make-shift morgue filed a class-action lawsuit against the facility Tuesday, contending the owners did not take the proper precautions to prevent residents from contracting COVID-19.
Brian Roberts, of New Jersey, filed the complaint in Superior Court of Sussex County against Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation Center I and II after his uncle, Albert Roberts, died from the virus on April 1.
“Despite the very serious risk of an outbreak at the Facilities, and the dire consequences that would result if one were to occur, Defendants failed to take reasonable or adequate precautions to protect their residents and/or patients against the potential spread of COVID-19,” the filing reads.
Roberts accuses the facility of violating state and federal nursing home laws and the consumer fraud act.
He contends the nursing home made “false promises, misrepresentations and deceptive statements” by advertising itself as a high-quality, regulatory-compliant facility on its website even though Andover II had a one-star rating from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), a federal agency that gives assessment ratings for long-term care facilities.
Since 2015, CMS has cited Andover I for 24 regulatory violations and Andover II with 48 regulatory violations, according to the suit. Both facilities had continuously failed to meet safety and sanitary standards to prevent the spread of communicable disease among its community, the suit says.
“Roberts and the Decedent would not have chosen the Facilities for Decedent’s nursing home/rehabilitation services, or would not have paid what they did had they known Defendants’ representations regarding the quality and safety of the Facilities were false and deceptive,” the complaint reads.
In a statement to NJ Advance Media, Owner Chaim “Mutty” Scheinbaum said the facility took steps to prepare for the coronavirus in the early days of the pandemic, including increasing social distancing and separating sick patients.
Scheinbaum is named in the suit, along with co-owner Louis Schwartz.
“We monitored and complied with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines. Despite all our efforts, the virus made its way into our facility, as it did in the majority of long-term care facilities across New Jersey. We took every possible step to handle this crisis internally while simultaneously making dozens of outreaches to local, state, and federal agencies for help,” Scheinbaum said in the statement.
He said Andover Subacute II has not had a coronavirus symptomatic resident since May 12.
This is the second lawsuit against the facility, where at least 57 residents died from the virus.
The son of another resident, Joseph Maglioli, also filed a class-action lawsuit in May alleging widespread malpractice and negligence.
In response, the home and its owners said Maglioli and other residents were already very ill and would not have benefited from medical aid or treatment.
“Plaintiffs’ conditions were the direct and proximate result of the natural degenerative changes of the human body, and have ‘and would have’ occurred despite any and all intervention, prescription and treatment, or lack thereof, by these defendants,” the nursing home said.
Federal regulators hit the facilities with $220,000 in fines and cited them for lapses in patient care amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
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