Freedom Square’s COVID-19 deaths were avoidable, families say in lawsuit

Coronavirus

SEMINOLE, Fla. (WFLA) – At least two families are suing a Pinellas County nursing home following a coronavirus outbreak at the Freedom Square Seminole Nursing Home in April saying their loves one’s deaths could have been avoided.

The facility said in a statement to 8 On Your Side Wednesday that so far they have had 34 patients and one employee die due to coronavirus.

According to the lawsuits, Donald Jack and Christopher Pugh were residents at the Seminole Pavilion Rehabilitation and Nursing Services during the outbreak and ultimately contracted COVID-19 and died.

Jack’s family said he was only supposed to be at the facility for short-term rehabilitation and that they never expected that trip to turn into a death sentence.

“Like many families who come to use they just don’t want this to happen to someone else,” said attorney Bennie Lazzara with Wilkes & McHugh law firm.

Lazzara is representing both families suing the nursing home. He said they believe the facility chose profits over residents by ignoring deficiencies in its infection control plan and failing to provide adequate protective gear for staff. Also, by withholding information from staff, families, and authorities.

“This nursing home was totally unprepared. They had no plan to deal with this,” said Lazzara.

Dennis Keaton’s 103-year-old mom was evacuated from the facility due to coronavirus.

“I couldn’t even explain the emotions. I thought that place was a good place but truthfully it was all about them making money,” Keaton said.

Keaton said that evacuating his mom set off a bad chain of events for her and she has physically and mentally been in decline ever since. He said although she is still alive he thinks what the facility put her through will lead to her ultimate demise.

“They lied. If they just would have told the truth from the beginning and not try to cover up things and make it look like they didn’t have problems…if they were just honest people would probably be reacting differently to this,” said Keaton.

8 On Your Side called Freedom Square Seminole for their reaction. The Executive Director Michael Mason said they would not comment on pending litigation but that the well-being and safety of residents and employees continue to be their top priority.

Statement sent to WFLA Wednesday morning by Freedom Square Executive Director Michael Mason

Each family suing is asking for damages in excess of $30,000 dollars.

“It’s killing me, it’s traumatized myself and our family,” said Keaton. He said his next step is to get in touch with lawyers and join the lawsuit.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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