SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – A federal judge has dismissed a class action lawsuit brought by employees of the Holyoke Soldiers Home who alleged their civil rights were violated due to working conditions at the home during the 2020 COVID-19 outbreak there.

Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Mark Mastroianni dismissed the suit, which named former Soldiers Home Superintendent Bennett Walsh and former medical Director Dr. David Clinton as defendants. Also named as defendants were the facility’s former chief nursing officer, former infectious disease nurse, and former director of nursing.

The suit was filed by Kwesi Ablordeppey, a former certified nurse’s aide at the Home. The suit alleged the defendants violated his 14th Amendment rights and those of other plaintiffs by “failing to protect them from harm, provide them with a safe working environment, and/or provide them with minimally adequate medical and nursing equipment.”

Mastroianni, however, said that the plaintiffs did not demonstrate a violation to their right to substantive due process. Further, he said that the defendants were protected by qualified immunity as public employees performing their official duties.

The case is only one of multiple civil suits that have been brought since the outbreak.

Following the dismissal, the union that represents the employees of the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home told 22News that they were disappointed with the judge’s ruling:

The judge’s ruling is very disappointing as it relates to Kwesi’s case. There will be a appeal on behalf of Kwesi and a new case filed on behalf of other members that physically were sick while working at the home throughout the pandemic. 

This was an absolute failure on behalf of the management of the Soldiers’ Home as well as the Commonwealth. The co-mingling of sick patients with healthy patients directly attributed to the horrific loss of 75 veterans which our members cared for deeply, forged long lasting relationships with the families of the veterans. They ultimately became sick themselves. This has been a nightmare for our members at the soldier’s home to have to constantly had to relive.”

Tom McKeever
President SEIU LOCAL 888