Delaware County Sued After COVID-19 Death

An adult care facility is in hot water after one of their residents died of COVID-19 last year. The complaint alleges that the Fair Acres Geriatric Center and Delaware County are responsible for the death of the resident, and a wrongful death suit has been filed targeting them both.

The complaint was filed in a Pennsylvania District Court by attorney Stephen J. Pokiniewski, who represents the family of 63-year-old former Fair Acres resident Christopher Beaty Sr. The family, Christopher Beauty Jr. and Nichole Garcia, say that Fair Acres rightly halted visitation as of March 13, 2020 (after the pandemic was declared by the World Health Organization), but failed to prevent unnecessary close contact between caretakers and residents when possible. 

The complaint also says that residents weren’t even tested for coronavirus until late May: “Although decedent’s roommate exhibited symptoms of COVID-19, while decedent and his roommate’s COVID tests were pending, they remained in the same room and in close proximity to each other. Later on June 1, 2020, Fair Acres contacted plaintiffs and indicated that decedent had contracted a low-grade fever, which can be a symptom of COVID-19.”

County solicitor Bill Martin said, “The matter has been referred to our insurance company for review. The county takes any such allegations very seriously and will review the facts to make sure that Fair Acres continues to provide the best possible care to its residents.”

Beaty Sr. tested negative for the virus on June 2, 2020. At this time his roommate was removed after testing positive. Beauty Sr. continued to show symptoms and deteriorate. He was admitted to Riddle Hospital one day later, re-tested, and tested positive for COVID-19. He was diagnosed with pneumonia, respiratory failure, urinary tract infection, and other serious complications related to COVID-19. He died Jun 6, 2020.

Beaty Sr. is one of 94 residents who died due to COVID-19. There were 293 confirmed cases among the resident population, which 211 confirmed cases among employees likely helped to spread.

An anonymous associate for Bernal-Mora & Nickolaou, P.A. said, “This is precisely why so many care facilities have seen their resident population completely gutted by COVID-19. They failed to take the necessary precautions, which were in both their own interests and the interests of their residents. It makes no sense. And they should be held accountable for this kind of gross negligence.”

Pokiniewski said, “It’s been very hard on the family. It’s obviously always a tragedy when anyone passes away, but Mr. Beaty was very, very close with his family. It’s one of those situations where even during lockdown, the family couldn’t really see him, but he had an iPad and they would Facetime with him a couple times a day, so they were able to stay in close communication with him.”

The lawsuit contends that the care facility is responsible for gross negligence in failing to comply with state and federal regulations, which cause Beaty Sr. to suffer immeasurable from emotional distress, anxiety, and death.