SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) — A federal judge has approved a nearly $58 million settlement in a class action lawsuit filed in response to the deaths of dozens of veterans who contracted COVID-19 at a home for Massachusetts Veterans.
“It is with heavy hearts that we have come to the finish line in this case,” Michael Aleo, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said on Tuesday, the day after the settlement was approved by a U.S. District Court judge. of Springfield.
The coronavirus outbreak at the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke in the spring of 2020 was one of the deadliest outbreaks in a long-term care facility in the United States.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs said 84 residents died and roughly the same number fell ill. A total of 164 plaintiffs include veterans who tested positive for the disease and survived as well as the families of those who died. Several of the veterans who survived COVID-19 have died of other causes since the lawsuit was filed, Aleo said.
“The families are grateful that we were able to complete this case,” Aleo said. “Testing the case would have taken years.”
The original settlement amount announced in May was $56 million, but it was increased to about $58 million with the addition of three additional plaintiffs, he said.
Families of deceased veterans will receive a minimum of $400,000 each, while veterans who contracted the disease and survived will receive a minimum of $10,000 under the terms of the settlement.
Aleo expects the settlement to be paid within four to eight weeks.
The defendants in the case were four former state house executives and the secretary of health and human services, the state agency that oversees the facility. With the approval of the settlement, which is being paid for by the state, claims against all five have been dropped.
An investigation by a former federal prosecutor hired by Governor Charlie Baker found that the House’s leadership made several “utterly baffling” decisions that allowed the virus to spread almost unchecked.
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