Nils Lofgren, long-time guitar player in Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, is suing a long-term care facility where his mother-in-law lived and was infected with the coronavirus. He is determined to make nursing homes accountable for their negligence in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.
When outbreaks of COVID-19, the illness people can get when they are infected with the coronavirus, were only manifesting themselves in China and Italy, Nils Lofgren and his wife, Amy, moved her mother into a reputable long term care facility in Florham Park, N.J., Brookdale Senior Living. Patricia J. Landers, Mrs. Lofgren’s mother, began to complain almost immediately about things such as lapses in her supervision and not being given her regular medications. Her family alleges that they began to notice a pattern of neglect and were particularly concerned with this neglect when it came to treating her dementia.
From the time that she was admitted to Brookdale Senior Living up until early April, the 83-year-old Mrs. Landers “escaped” from the facility on four different occasions. On a cold, frigid night on her fourth escape, she was discovered by local police officers, shivering and walking aimlessly, three miles away from the facility. Mrs. Landers was admitted to a hospital in Montclair a week later and tested positive for COVID-19.
Feeling heartbroken, enraged, and betrayed, the Lofgrens began looking into what their legal options were for protecting their rights and those of Mrs. Landers. They discovered what seemed like a disturbing trend in dealing with the negligence of nursing homes across the country in their duty of care for their residents in relation to the coronavirus pandemic: Lobbyists for nursing homes had been pushing for immunity protection against lawsuits during the coronavirus and COVID-19 crisis.
Mr. Lofgren said that the family is horrified by the attitude of nursing homes’ that say, “Well we’re making a lot of money, but now let’s make sure we’re not liable for what we promised to do, in writing,” and then said, “Don’t forget, they look you in the eye and say your loved one will be cared for.”
The family is disturbed by New Jersey’s governor, Philip D. Murphy, signing a law that “provides civil and criminal immunity to certain health care professionals and health care facilities during a public health emergency and state of emergency,” because the intent of the law was to protect health care workers coming out of retirement and from other states- not the greed of negligent nursing homes. The Lofgrens know that Nils’ status as a guitarist for the state’s native hero, Bruce Springsteen, as well as being a member of Neil Young’s band Crazy Horse, would call much needed attention to the issue. They feel fortunate to be in a social position to call attention to this and in a financial position to do the work that they are doing because, “99 percent of most people can’t even afford a lawyer… And they just take it, and their families are decimated by it.”
Mrs. Landers is now recovering from COVID-19 and has moved to a different facility.
A public relations manager for the company that runs Brookdale declined to discuss Mrs. Lander’s case specifically but said, “As a matter of company policy, Brookdale does not comment on or get ahead of ongoing legal proceedings.