First Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed Today Against Notorious Pennsylvania Nursing Home Linked to at Least 80 COVID-19 Deaths

National Guard was deployed to fight lethal infections at “hellhole” nursing home.

PITTSBURGH, PA (July 1, 2020) – The first wrongful death lawsuit was filed today against the notorious Brighton Rehabilitation and Wellness Center—linked to at least 80 COVID-19 deaths—by the family of a beloved housekeeper at the Beaver County facility with a long history of infection control violations, according to attorneys from Saltz Mongeluzzi & Bendesky, PC, which represents the family of the late Elizabeth A. Wiles. Robert J. Mongeluzzi, David L. Kwass, and Elizabeth A. Bailey filed the comprehensive, multi-count complaint in Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas.

The complaint (Estate of Elizabeth A. Wiles v. Comprehensive Healthcare Management Services, LLC, et al., Allegheny Court of Common Pleas, No. GD-20-007319) details how the private facility’s owner-operator and its contractors failed miserably and repeatedly to protect workers, residents, and visitors from infection, sickness, and death. Documenting a years-long pattern of unsafe, unsanitary conditions, the complaint requests a jury trial, compensatory and punitive damages to hold accountable those responsible for Ms. Wiles death from the virus on May 10th.

We are humbled to represent the family of Elizabeth Wiles. We look forward to presenting to a jury the facts that will reveal the deplorable conditions at this repeat offender facility, conditions so dangerous in this nursing home turned hellhole, that the National Guard had to be called in to try to help save lives. There is no doubt that the defendants’ motivation for intentionally misrepresenting to its employees and others the safety of the facility was to continue to make money and to deceive state and federal regulatory agencies about the severity of the outbreak. COVID-19 found a perfect environment to spread at Brighton—an understaffed nursing home lacking proper PPE and protocols and  that had been repeatedly cited for unsafe and utterly ineffective infection controls.

Robert J. Mongeluzzi

Elizabeth Wiles and son, Angelo Domena: Family Photo

Elizabeth Wiles and son, Angelo Domena: Family Photo

Mr. Kwass, noting that the complaint includes claims of malicious and intentional misrepresentation, stated, “Can you imagine a nursing home operator not only failing to provide basic personal protective equipment (PPE)—including masks—to its workers, but also blatantly telling them Brighton was a safe place to work as COVID-19 raged? We will demonstrate they not only did that but they did it to ensure that workers continued to show up each day for their shifts and to ensure that Brighton could avoid further government sanctions for failing to meet staffing levels.” He added, “Elizabeth Wiles was an essential worker at this nursing home for nearly 30 years and yet she was treated like she was expendable. She didn’t deserve to die a preventable and premature death from COVID-19. But she does deserve justice.”

Vanessa Sherod, who is administering her mother’s estate on her behalf and her three siblings, said they are all still mourning the loss of their “hero-mom, who beat cancer, who was as passionate about her job as she was her own four children, 11 grandchildren, and 4 great-grandchildren. Everyone learned morality and other valuable life lessons from her, but also how to cook, sew, even use power tools.”

Ms. Sherod said, “She was so committed to the residents—particularly those who had no family of their own—and her co-workers at Brighton. She loved everyone, which is why it is so shocking that her employer and her supervisors wouldn’t do the right thing. She took her job so seriously. But they didn’t care enough about mom to even give her a face mask. And they didn’t care enough about her—knowing she was a cancer survivor with high blood pressure—to tell her to stay safe, to stay home until the virus had passed. What happened to our mom should never have happened, and it can never happen again.”

Ms. Bailey said Brighton’s checkered history—before and after the onset of COVID-19—is laid bare in the lawsuit. “Brighton was a serial offender when it came to failing to ensure a safe and healthy environment throughout its facility. Long before COVID-19, the state repeatedly cited Brighton for deficient and unsafe infection controls. It was unsurprising that the federal investigation into the Brighton Outbreak resulted in a $62,500 fine after finding issues including unclean medical equipment and problems with medical record-keeping.”

Besides CHMS, of Beaver, Pennsylvania, and its officers, the other 10 defendants include Healthcare Services Group, Inc. (HCSG), of Bensalem, Pennsylvania, and its officers. HCSG and its related companies provided contract housekeeping and laundry services to Brighton.

Saltz Mongeluzzi & Bendesky is one of the nation’s leading catastrophic wrongful death law firms representing victims and their loved ones. It recently filed, on behalf of Enock Benjamin, the first wrongful death lawsuit against the Pennsylvania JBS Souderton meatpacking plant on behalf of an employee who died from the disease. Benjamin Wrongful Death Complaint

Also representing the Wiles family is attorney Sammy Y. Sugiura, of Pittsburgh-based Edgar Snyder & Associates, LLC. Mr. Sugiura will be pursuing claims related to Brighton’s failure to comply with federal employment laws that would have protected Ms. Wiles while she was at work.

The family of Elizabeth Wiles is directing all media inquiries—including interview requests—to its attorneys at this time.

A copy of the filed Complaint are here: CHMS Wrongful Death Lawsuit.

Contacts:
Robert J. Mongeluzzi /  rmongeluzzi@smbb.com / 215.850.6571
David L. Kwass / dlkwass@smbb.com / 215. 518.0467
Elizabeth A.Bailey /  eabailey@smbb.com / 215.575.3859
Sammy Y. Sugiura / ssurgiura@edgarsnyder.com  412.394.4458
Steph Rosenfeld / steph@idadvisors.com/ 215.514.4101

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