News reports show that COVID-19 deaths among nursing home patients and staff account for 40% of U.S. deaths from the virus. Due to the high amount of deaths among nursing homes and in other industries, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the U.S. court system, both federal and state. Most of the lawsuits are individual claimants, but a handful of class action cases are making their way through the courts.

The following takes a look at three wrongful death class actions that cross several industries.

New Jersey Nursing Home Class Action

On September 8, 2020, a lead plaintiff in New Jersey filed a wrongful death class action in Sussex County Superior Court related to nursing home violations during COVID-19. The case is Roberts v Andover Subacute Rehabilitation Center, et al. The administrator of the Roberts estate brought the case against two New Jersey nursing home facilities and the owner/operators for failing to take preventive infection measures against the COVID-19 virus. Their failure to protect led to the loss of 94 lives in the nursing homes. 

Over the years, prior to COVID-19, the Andover facilities have been negatively assessed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), giving the facilities the second-worst rating on the CMS rating system. One of the citations was for failure to meet the regulatory and sanitation standards to prevent the spread of communicable diseases among the patients. 

The owner/operators advertised the facilities as high-quality and compliant with regulations. The plaintiff maintains that the residents and their families relied on those representations to their detriment. The lawsuit also claims the nursing homes apprised none of the relatives of the 17 dead patients until police found the bodies. Family members also claimed they received no updates about their family-residents for weeks. After the most recent investigation of violations, the nursing home faces $220,000 in fines.

The lawsuit further alleges violations of state and federal nursing home laws, as well as violations of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act. The class action plaintiffs demand equitable and injunctive relief, attorney fees and expenses, pre-and post-judgment interest, consequential and compensatory damages, punitive and treble damages, and/or

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