June 14, 2021
It is a truth now well known that New York, under the cover-your-ass leadership of one Andrew Cuomo, utterly and completely botched their COVID-19 response.
This is something we have covered repeatedly ever since last year, when New York kept posting astronomically high numbers of deaths, especially among the elderly. And the governor had signed an order to send back COVID-infected patients back to their nursing home facilities. It took only a couple of months for the Daily Caller to uncover something that would take the rest of the media almost another year to realize – New York was undercounting the COVID deaths that were coming from nursing homes. With the order to send patients back to nursing homes now a political liability, it was quietly deleted and the Cuomo administration thought that would be the end of it.
Except the internet is forever. Andrew Cuomo’s ego is forever. And the anger of the families who lost their older loved ones is forever, too.
Andrew Cuomo, of course, is under an investigation for his handling of the care facilities deaths under his watch, along with the added scrutiny of the questions about his book deal and the profit that he made off it. But someone else made profit as well – or, at least, was protected by Andrew Cuomo from losing their shirts in the wake of so much death. And that would be the hospitals and care facilities, who were the beneficiaries of an immunity against lawsuits due to COVID-19, signed into law by Andrew Cuomo at the behest of the powerful hospital lobby. The outcry from New York legislators and citizens alike forced Cuomo to agree to the law’s repeal this last April.
Well, that meant that the facilities were no longer shielded by Cuomo’s magical immunity bill in New York. Which means that lawsuits are coming. And now the hospital lobby wants the courts in New York to toss a lawsuit against one nursing home, fearing the precedent that it will set if the suit is allowed to move forward.
The Greater New York Hospital Association and NYS Health Care Association filed papers in Brooklyn federal court on Friday challenging the suit brought by Vivian Zayas, whose mom died of coronavirus last year following her stay at Our Lady of Consolation.”
Zayas, who sued last August, is seeking to hold the West Islip nursing home liable in her mom’s death, saying it failed to take adequate preventative measures to keep the killer bug from spreading.”
“They know my case could open the door for victims seeking accountability. We need to protect the residents, not the bottom line of these facilities,” Zayas said.”
“We need to see accountability and reform — even it’s one nursing home at a time.”
At the heart of Zayas’ case is the repeal of the Emergency or Disaster Treatment Protection Act, a state law that shielded hospitals and nursing homes across New York from medical malpractice and negligence claims over their handling of the pandemic.”
The controversial law was greenlit by Gov. Cuomo — who’s faced intense scrutiny over his handling of the pandemic in nursing homes — and the state legislature in the spring of 2020 before it was repealed altogether in April.”
With her lawsuit, Zayas believes the repeal should be retroactively applied back to March 2020 — though the hospital and health-care lobby argues that would take a devastating toll on the industry.”
Can you imagine if this lawsuit moves forward, and the courts rule – as Zayas’s lawyer and Assemblyman Ron Kim believe they should – that the law was unconstitutional and therefore there was no immunity protection for any of the care facilities or hospitals, what will happen? The lawyers will be lining up to represent these families faster than you can say “settlement.” The odds that many, if any, of these care facilities would be able to mount a defense that would sway a jury in a civil trial is infinitesimally small.
However, the flip side of that is that many of these care facilities could be bankrupted and closed, thus displacing anyone still living there.
No lawsuit or settlement is going to restore the losses that families have suffered. But it is high time for people and organizations to be held accountable. Anyone with half a brain could have predicted that sending infected patients back to their facilities was going to result in more infections, and more deaths. The rot goes all the way to the top. Andrew Cuomo might escape some consequences – like being impeached or recalled – but the one thing he truly loved, his political career, is just as dead as the seniors whose deaths his aides tried to hide. Could Andrew Cuomo still face some kind of justice through the attorney general’s investigation? Of course – mostly because Letitia James is politically savvy enough to use this to become governor herself.
It’s not a slam dunk that the Zayas case will be allowed to move forward. But there’s no guarantee that it won’t, either. Regardless, things are going to get very ugly for the hospital lobby of New York if they think pleading overwhelming circumstances, or ignorance, or “the governor made us do it!” is going to help them now.