NJ to pay nearly $53 million to families of victims who died of COVID in veterans homes

Veterans homes in state reported some of the highest COVID-related death tolls nationally early in the pandemic, forcing Gov. Phil Murphy to dispatch emergency help.

Updated: December 27, 2021 - 8:17am

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The state of New Jersey is seeking to put behind it a scandal from the early pandemic, reaching a settlement to pay nearly $53 million to families of 119 victims who died of COVID-19 in state-run veterans homes.

An official for Gov. Phil Murphy's administration confirmed the settlement in an interview with NJ.com, saying the average settlement payment will be around $445,000 per family.

"The families of those who have lost their lives to COVID-19 have gone through so much,” the official told the news site. “This settlement will hopefully allow them to move forward without years of protracted and uncertain litigation.”

Veterans homes in Menlo Park and Paramus reported some of the highest COVID-related death tolls nationally early in the pandemic, forcing Murphy to dispatch emergency help from the Veterans Administration and National Guard.

Families eventually sued, alleging egregious failures at the treatment homes that included:

  • early directives to staff not to use masks or gloves;
  • improper and flawed infection prevention measures, including failure to test residents and staff in a timely manner;
  • long delays before isolating confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases;
  • allowing staff members who were exposed or tested positive for the coronavirus to continue to work.

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