Knollwood Nursing Home faces federal lawsuit over the COVID death of a resident

Coronavirus

Mobile, Ala. (WKRG) — Knollwood Nursing Home, the site of one of the largest outbreaks of coronavirus during the first weeks of the pandemic, is now facing a federal lawsuit over the death of one of their residents.

The lawsuit was filed originally in Mobile County Circuit Court by the family of Edna Holman. Holman was undergoing rehabilitation at the Knollwood facility in May 2020.

The lawsuit alleges ‘Ms. Holmes contracted COVID-19 due to placement of another resident with the virus in her room, and by Defendants’ failures to monitor and provide adequate interventions to prevent or mitigate COVID19.’ Stacey Mroczko and Leslie McDuffie were named as defendants in the case.

Defense attorneys cited a federal statute, the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act as cause to remove the case to U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama.

The PREP Act allows the Secretary for Health and Human services to issue a declaration that grants immunity from liability in such cases and because of that declaration, gives federal courts jurisdiction.

Specifically, the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act, 42 U.S.C.
§§247d-6d, 247d-6e (“PREP Act”), provides that any claim arising from a COVID-19
countermeasure, countermeasure plan, or countermeasure facility, such as Knollwood Nursing
Home, LLC and Defendants, shall give rise only to an “exclusive federal cause of action” in an
“exclusive federal jurisdiction” and shall be barred from any other type of “suit and liability”.

Similar cases have also been removed from state courts to federal courts. At least 36 nursing homes and senior living facilities have claimed legal immunity, citing the law as a defense.

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