SOUTH FULTON, Ga. - The legal troubles are mounting for a City of South Fulton Assisted Living facility where 17 people have died from complications of COVID-19.
The family of 83-year-old Joeann Snead says they are devastated and want answers. They are the fifth family to file legal action against the facility.
The family moved the hearing impaired grandmother to the upscale facility on March 9 in hopes of meeting new people and remaining active.
Her daughter says two weeks later, her mom started getting sick and on March 24 she entered Emory Midtown Hospital never came out. She died in the hospital the same day her family had planned to interview with Fox5's Aungelique Proctor on April 21.
Attorneys for the Snead family filed a wrongful death lawsuit in Fulton County Superior Court on Friday. They believe the owners and staff are guilty of gross negligence in the COVID-19 death. and misled families that all was well when the number of coronavirus positive cases were rising and the deaths had already started.
"Arbor Terrace was telling residents and their families in its a senior living blog that it was inadvisable to move out at this time. All the while, they knew at least 29 of their residents had tested positive for COVID-19, they were aware that there had been deaths. They were aware that a number of their own staff members had tested positive, yet and despite all of this, they were making these false assurances to the residents and their families," attorney Harold Spence proclaimed.
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"We will find out why they conducted this PR campaign of misdirection despite the surging numbers," attorneys Spence questioned.
The attorneys say they filed the lawsuit to hold Arbor Terrace responsible for the literal human carnage their misconduct caused at Cascade. The lawsuit alleges wrongful death and asks for unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.
Arbor Company President Judd Harper released a statement about the lawsuit that reads:
"This is an exceptionally difficult time for our state and, sadly, for our beloved residents and staff at Arbor Terrace Cascade as we face this unprecedented global pandemic. While we cannot discuss ongoing litigation, what we can tell you is that the safety and wellbeing of the residents and staff of our assisted living community is always our first priority. To prepare for COVID-19, we closed the community to all visitors except essential personnel and implemented safety measures recommended by the CDC and local health authorities. These continued safety measures include daily symptom screening of all residents and staff, the required use of PPE by all residents and staff, enhanced cleaning procedures, initial COVID-19 testing for residents and staff and requiring residents to quarantine in their residences. Through frequent letters to residents as well as a dedicated COVID-19 page on our website, we have been providing updates to communicate how our community is responding to the pandemic. To support our staff and retain the excellent caregivers we have in place, we increased paid sick time, provided wage increases and paid for childcare when schools closed. Despite all our pandemic readiness and heightened efforts, this is a disease that disproportionately impacts the elderly and those with severe underlying medical conditions. We are navigating uncharted waters caring for those most at risk for tragic outcomes and our hearts and prayers go out to our Arbor Terrace families and staff.”