NY Adult Home Accused Of Providing Poor COVID-19 Care

By Dave Simpson
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Law360 (May 5, 2020, 11:20 PM EDT) -- Residents of the Queens Adult Care Center hit the New York City facility with a putative Americans with Disabilities Act class action in federal court Tuesday, saying that they are in danger of contracting COVID-19 and that an estimated 15 residents have already died because the assisted living home isn't taking proper precautions.

Residents Bryan Schoengood, Annetta King Simpson and Willie Roland said Hofgur LLC, which does business as QACC, isn't screening residents or staff for the virus, isn't putting sanitary measures in place and isn't properly isolating residents. This is made even more egregious by the fact that most of the 352 residents are particularly vulnerable to the virus, the suit claims.

"The majority of QACC's residents, many of whom are mentally ill, are still allowed to wander freely through the facility's three floors, recreational rooms, and communal rooms, and outside to the surrounding Elmhurst neighborhood," the suit alleges.

The suit, which alleges violations to the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act, seeks an injunction forcing the QACC to start implementing coronavirus precautions.

The residents at the center are either older or dependents with disabilities and associated significant care needs, and receive assistance with taking medication, housekeeping, laundry, dressing, bathing, using the toilet, hygiene, food preparation, and transportation, the suit says.

QACC residents first fell ill with the coronavirus in mid- to late March but few preventative measures have been put into place, the suit says. Residents who do contract the virus are "left to languish in their rooms" without getting proper care, the suit says.

"Medical care and treatment within QACC are highly limited in capacity, and as staff become sick or refuse to care or offer assistance to those residents who fall sick, even fewer people are present to care for those residents who remain in the facility," the suit alleges.

Residents estimate there have been 15 deaths in the home resulting from the virus. In one instance, a resident died in bed and his body remained in the room, his roommate present, for almost an entire day, the suit alleges.

"Residents are packed in a combustible mix of sick and elderly patients alongside those with mental illness, often with little understanding of the risks and danger of this highly contagious disease," the suit says.

"For reasons beyond their control, people in assisted living facilities are unable to voluntarily practice social distancing, control their exposure to large groups, practice increased hygiene, wear protective clothing, obtain specific products for sanitation, cleaning, or laundry, avoid high-touch surfaces, or sanitize their own environment," it continues.

"The allegations are baseless and utter fabrications," QACC told Law360 in an email. "Queens Adult Care Center continues to adhere to all applicable state guidelines."

The residents are represented by Jaehyun Oh, Aaron S. Halpern and Alan L. Fuchsberg of The Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Firm LLP.

Counsel information for the defendants was not immediately known Tuesday.

The case is Schoengood et al v. Hofgur LLC et al, case number 1:20-cv-02022, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

--Editing by Michael Watanabe.

Update: This story has been updated to include comment from QACC.

For a reprint of this article, please contact reprints@law360.com.

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Case Information

Case Title

Schoengood et. al. v. Hofgur LLC et. al.


Case Number

2:20-cv-02022

Court

New York Eastern

Nature of Suit

Civil Rights: Americans with Disabilities - Other

Date Filed

May 04, 2020

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