Families of Veterans Who Died in State-Run Nursing Homes Win $53M Settlement

Families of Veterans Who Died in State-Run Nursing Homes Win $53M Settlement Families of Veterans Who Died in State-Run Nursing Homes Win $53M Settlement New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy on Oct. 28, 2021, in New Brunswick, New Jersey. (Yana Paskova/Getty Images)

By Theodore Bunker | Friday, 07 January 2022 10:44 AM

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration has reached an agreement to pay $53 million to the families of seniors who died from COVID-19 while in state-run nursing homes for veterans, The New York Times reports.

The agreement, which was reached in December, would pay each family $445,000 on average. The families had accused the homes in Paramus, Menlo Park, and Vineland where their loved ones died of taking "gross departures" from typical nursing home standards and safety measures to prevent the spread of infection. Two nursing aides and 205 residents died due to COVID-19 at these three facilities at the beginning of the pandemic.

"No amount of money can ever obviously replace the lives of the lost veterans, but my clients and I are satisfied that this settlement provides a good measure of civil justice," said attorney Paul da Costa, who represented dozens of families in the negotiations, in a statement to NorthJersey.com.

Francisco Rodriguez, an attorney for 31 of the families, added that the amount they won is "significantly higher" than most settlements involving allegations of nursing home malpractice.

"It is, so far as I know, the first settlement in the U.S. related to mass COVID death at any kind of medical facility," he told the Times.

"It's a reflection of some bad judgment by former management combined with how much these people suffered," he added.

"It will never justify what happened to these poor people," said Regina Costantino Discenza, whose mother and father both died of COVID-19 after living at Menlo Park Veterans Memorial Home. "But it’s making a point: These veterans were not properly cared for."