MA Reaches $56 Million Settlement After Holyoke Soldiers Home Tragedy

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BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — The state of Massachusetts has agreed to pay $56 million to families and victims of the COVID-19 outbreak within the Holyoke Soldiers Home in March 2020. That outbreak resulted in the deaths of at least 76 veterans, and the settlement will go to families of veterans who died between March 1st and June 23rd, 2020.

“The COVID-19 outbreak at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home was a terrible tragedy. While we know nothing can bring back those who were lost, we hope that this settlement brings a sense of closure to the loved ones of the veterans,” Governor Charlie Baker in a statement.

The settlement still needs to be approved by the state's Federal District Court, and comes after a class-action lawsuit was filed by families. Governor Baker says he'll file legislation in the coming weeks, setting up a fund for victims.

The governor's office estimates that "estates of deceased veterans would receive a minimum award of $400,000 and veterans who contracted COVID but survived would receive a minimum of $10,000." The fund would also cover the plaintiff's attorney's fees.

Tom lesser served as attorney for the families, and says in a statement, “there is no amount of money that can compensate our clients for the loss of their loved ones. But our clients are grateful that the Commonwealth has acted to resolve this matter without the need for protracted litigation by agreeing to compensate both the families of those who died of COVID, as well as the veterans who survived. The settlement is fair and just.”

Last month, the state's Office of the Inspector General released a scathing report, saying the governor and state health officials had made critical errors in their hiring and oversight of former Holyoke Superintendent Bennett J. Walsh, and the superintendent himself displayed a lack of leadership and engagement in running the facility.

Attorney General Maura Healey pursued criminal charges against the former superintendent, but a judge dismissed the charges last fall.

Listen to WBZ NewsRadio live for updates and reaction following the settlement announcement:

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