When the coronavirus outbreak was only manifesting itself in horrifying headlines from Italy and China, Nils Lofgren, the guitarist for Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, and his wife, Amy, moved her mother into Brookdale Senior Living, a well-regarded long term care facility in Florham Park, N.J. Almost immediately, Patricia J. Landers, Mrs. Lofgren’s mother, began complaining about missing medications and lapses in supervision. The family began to notice a pattern of neglect, particularly in treating her dementia. Then, in early April, Mrs. Landers, 83, was discovered by local police officers walking aimlessly on a frigid night, three miles away from Brookdale, shivering, bruised and confused. It was her fourth escape from the facility since she arrived in January. A week later, Mrs. Landers was admitted to a hospital in Montclair, where she tested positive for Covid-19. Incensed and feeling betrayed, the Lofgrens began to explore legal options when they ran into a troubling trend: Lobbyists from nursing homes across the country were pushing for immunity protection from lawsuits during the coronavirus crisis … Even in the face of the New Jersey law, Mr. Lofgren and his family were determined to take action, knowing that his status in New Jersey as a guitarist for the state’s pre-eminent hero would call attention to the issue. “We think that this is going to be just the tip of the iceberg, and the care provided to the senior citizens and parents and grandparents over the past weeks has been nothing short, in the majority of cases, of grossly negligent,” said Andrew Miltenberg, the lawyer for the Lofgrens. “And the industry as a whole, its response has been to push for immunity.” The lawsuit describes the ordeal as “every child’s worst nightmare” and follows a familiar path of confusing information and radio silence as nursing homes were quickly overrun by the virus. The family accuses the facility of negligence, fraud, deceptive trade practices and a violation of a New Jersey state law that protects the rights of nursing home residents. Though New Jersey recently signed the law protecting health care facilities, Mr. Miltenberg is confident they still have a case. For Mr. Lofgren, the battle extends beyond his family. “This is not to take the light off what has been a very demoralizing, tragic story for my mother-in-law that’s still being written,” Mr. Lofgren said. “Shining a light on this problem is important.” Mr. Lofgren, who is also a member of Neil Young’s band Crazy Horse, said he knew he was fortunate to even be in a position to have a lawyer who can help them bring a case in New Jersey, especially when the law surrounding the coronavirus outbreak is challenging and confusing.
Oct 26, 2022