A Massachusetts state judge on Monday dismissed criminal charges against two administrators of the Holyoke House of Soldiers, where the coronavirus outbreak killed 76 people, arguing that the administrators’ actions did not lead to infection.
State Attorney General Maura Healy has filed a criminal negligence and personal injury lawsuit against two administrators on the basis of their decision to merge two understaffed dementia wards, bringing together infected and uninfected men.
But Judge Edward J. McDonough Jr. of the Hampton Supreme Court wrote in his dismissal that he believed the five veterans named in the case were exposed to the virus before the two divisions were combined, so administrators cannot be held legally liable. …
“The grand jury was presented with insufficiently reliable evidence that if the two dementia departments had not been combined, the health status of any of these five veterans would have been significantly different,” he wrote.
Ms. Healy is weighing whether the decision should be appealed, the spokeswoman said.
“We are very disappointed with today’s decision, especially with regard to innocent victims and families affected by the actions of the accused,” said Gillian Fennimore.
The criminal charges against two administrators – Superintendent Bennett Walsh and Medical Director David Clinton – were considered the first ever to be brought against nursing home staff in the country, and could face years or even decades in prison if convicted.
Due to a shortage of staff at the institution, units were merged, which had a total of 42 residents with different Covid-19 statuses, and residents with a positive or symptomatic diagnosis were placed in a room that usually contained four veterans. An independent investigation into the deaths cited nurses who said they knew the switch to harvesters would be fatal for many of their patients.
Relatives of the veterans killed at the facility expressed their dissatisfaction with the judge’s decision on Monday.
“Absolutely disgusting, our veterans and their families appear to be a one-off item,” wrote Susan Perez, whose father, James Miller, died at home, adding: “Obviously no one is responsible for the deaths of the veterans and the injuries to their families. … “