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May 24, 2024

Nursing Homes Wield Pandemic Immunity Laws to Duck Wrongful Death Suits

According to KFF Health News, more than 1,000 COVID-19 related lawsuits have been filed alleging negligent care of nursing home residents. Family members of residents allege that nursing homes failed to follow COVID-19 protocols to mitigate the severity of outbreaks among patients and staff. Nursing homes have cited the federal Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (“PREP Act”) passed by Congress in 2005, claiming liability from death or injuries tied to medical countermeasures taken to prevent, treat,or mitigate a disease during a national emergency. 

Nursing homes have used this provision to remove cases from state courts to federal courts to request dismissal. Judges have issued varying decisions on the application of this theory. For the most part, federal judges have declined to hear the case ruling that the PREP Act was not intended to shield medical providers from negligence caused by inaction.

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