First Civil Lawsuit Filed Against Holyoke Soldiers' Home Leaders

HOLYOKE, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — The first civil rights lawsuit has been filed against five former leaders of the Holyoke Soldiers' Home, in connection with the facility's COVID-19 outbreak which claimed the lives of 76 veterans.

The federal suit was filed on Friday at the U.S. District Court in Springfield by the estate of Joseph Sniadach, an 84-year-old Korean War veteran who died of coronavirus at the Home in April.

Attorney Thomas Lesser said the suit is seeking $176 million, and certification as a class-action civil rights lawsuit.

"76 people died, and they’ve certainly entitled to $1 million each, and many people contracted COVID-19," said Lesser. "It’s a figure that takes care of them and some number for punitive damages."

The complaint charges the Home's former superintendent Bennett Walsh, the state's former Secretary of Veterans' Services Francisco Urena, and three other former medical leaders at the Home with unethical behavior and acting with "deliberate indifference" in managing the facility's COVID-19 outbreak.

According to Western Mass News, lawyers plan to add more plaintiffs to the case, and they do not plan to bring action against the state's Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders.

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(Photo: Getty Images)

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