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April 28, 2023

Appellate Court Ruling Strips Providers of Potential Shield Against COVID Related Claims

In a recent ruling,  the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed a district court decision remanding a COVID-related medical negligence and wrongful death case back to state court for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. The case concerned care provided in March 2020 to a nursing home resident who became ill and likely died from COVID-19. The defendant nursing home had removed the plaintiff’s state law claim to federal court on the basis of immunity provisions of and preemption by the federal Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The court , reasoned that Congress did not intend the PREP Act to eliminate state-law causes of action for non-immunized claims and that the Act could not preempt a negligence claim because the Act’s sole remedy required proof of willful misconduct, a higher level of culpability than negligence. This ruling exemplifies the ongoing back and forth regarding the protections afforded by COVID-era legislation. 

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