Cal Now For A Free & Confidential Consultation 860-322-5302

Connecticut Injury News Blog

Nursing Home liability for transmission of Covid-19 Coronavirus

Posted by Paul Levin | Apr 19, 2020 | 0 Comments

Connecticut has not been spared the consequences of severe pandemic outbreaks in neighboring States, most notably, New York. As often occurs, the most vulnerable populations suffer the most as they lack the practical ability and resources to protect themselves. Arguably, no segment of the society is more dependent on others to protect them from  Coronavirus than residents of Connecticut's nursing homes and long term care facilities. Yesterday, a State Marshal effecting service of process mentioned that his close relative was in a Nursing home in West Hartford that had a handful of active Covid-19 infections. His relative had not caught it as yet but the concern was real. The Marshal checked to see if his relative could be moved to another Nursing home in Manchester and was advised that they too had a Covid 19 outbreak. The Connecticut Mirror reported that one out of twelve Connecticut nursing homes has a Covid -19 infection rate of at least 25% according to an analysis of State data. Evidently, 213 State Nursing homes were included in the data assessment which also disclosed that one out of every fifty residents have already died from contracting the disease. A breakdown of the facilities statewide reported by the Department of Social Services appears below;

Infection and Death total released April 16 by Gov. Lamont. Resident count from March 16 monthly data from the Department of Social Services
This grim data raises questions that will need to be addressed, both from the standpoint of improving outcomes for future public health risks and outbreaks and also for bringing institutional accountability for the loss of that which is irreplaceable, human life. Some of the elderly in such facilities were admittedly very sick, though many were not , having the usual co morbidities that accompany growing old. Most have families that loved them though could not take care of them in a non nursing home facility and others were anticipating to complete their rehabilitation from illness or injury and return to their normal lives. Many of those who have succumb to the pandemic would not likely have contracted the disease but for their residence in those facilities. So how did they get infected and who is responsible if one cannot know which person, nurse or patient sickened the next? The answer is, the hospital or institution has an overriding responsibility, and presumably the training, resources and advance knowledge of what was coming to Connecticut. What steps were taken, or not taken, to surveil their own employees, what personal protective equipment was provided them and the residents while being cared for. What social distancing mechanisms were put in place and how were potentially sick employees and new resident transfers isolated and monitored. There are other considerations as well that go beyond the scope of detail in this blog but these questions will be asked and answered and where appropriate, the involved facilities and their management will be held legally responsible and answerable in a court of law. Compensatory and even punitive damages will be in play depending upon the gravity of the conduct involved. 

Institutional or hospital negligence more often that not is a matter of vicarious liability for the actions or omissions of its agents and employees. The idea that it only acts through its doctors and nurses upon their own individual responsibility has been rejected by Supreme Courts in other states. In the Illinois Supreme Court decision in Darling v Charleston Community Memorial Hospital, 33 Ill. 2d, 211 NE 2d 253 (1965), the Court stated: “the conception that the hospital does not undertake to treat the patient, does not undertake to act through its doctors and nurses, but undertakes instead simply to procure them to act upon their own responsibility, no longer reflects the fact. Present day Nursing homes , as their manner of operations plainly demonstrates, do far more than furnish facilities for residence. They regularly employ on a salary basis a staff of physician, nurses and interns, as well as administrative and manual workers, and they charge patients for medical care and treatment, collection for such services, if necessary, by legal action. Certainly, the person who avails himself of such facilities and their families expects that the institutions, its management, and staff will act responsibility and protect those that cannot protect themselves. . The standards for hospital accreditation, the state licensing regulations  assume certain responsibilities per discharged for the care of the patient.” 

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court in the case of Thompson v Nason Hospital 591 A 2d 703 (Penn. Sup. CT 1991) has held that a medical care facility  has four distinct duties:

  • A duty to use reasonable care in the maintenance of safe and adequate facilities and equipment;
  • A duty to select and retain only competent physicians;
  • A duty to oversee all persons who practice medicine within its walls as to patient care; and
  • A duty to formulate, adopt and enforce adequate rules and policies to ensure quality care for patients.

Corporate negligence is the failure of those entrusted with the task of providing the accommodations and facilities necessary to carry out the charitable purposes of the

corporation to follow, in a given situation, the established standard of conduct to which the corporation should conform. The duty of following such a standard of conduct is

nondelegable, and the corporation is chargeable with corporate negligence for failure to perform that duty. 

About the Author

Paul Levin

Attorney Levin was admitted to practice law in the State of Connecticut beginning 1989 and in New York Federal district court beginning 1992. He is a member of the Connecticut Trial Lawyers Association, Connecticut Bar Association, and the National Association for American Justice. Prior to establishing his own law firm, Attorney Levin was associated with the...


There are no comments for this post. Be the first and Add your Comment below.

Leave a Comment

Where We Serve

Statewide practice serving all counties throughout Connecticut and the following cities: Hartford, Bridgeport, New Haven, Stamford, Waterbury, Norwalk, Danbury, New Britain, Bristol, Meriden, Milford, West Haven, Middletown, Norwich, Shelton, Torrington, New London, Ansonia, Derby, Groton and Winsted.