SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The state has come to an agreement with veterans and their families who died or became ill with the COVID-19 virus during an outbreak at the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke.
During a conference call Thursday morning, attorneys for the plaintiffs, state, former Superintendent Bennett Walsh, Dr. David Clinton and other administrators discussed the settlement with Federal Judge Mark Mastroianni.
“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,” said Governor Charlie Baker.
The Governor’s office has agreed to a $56-million payout that will be divided into two classes:
- A. Veterans and estates of veterans who had COVID-19 and survived between March 1, 2020 and June 23, 2020.
- B. Estates of veterans who died from COVID-19 between March 1, 2020 and June 23, 2020.
Governor Charlie Baker’s office sent a news release to 22News with details on the settlement which disclosed that former U.S. Attorney Donald K. Stern will serve as the settlement claims administrator and will make awards to participating claimants based on his review of each claimant’s individual circumstances. 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 will also provide for payment of court approved attorneys’ fees for the plaintiffs. The Governor will file legislation to cover the $56-million.
The plan must be filed with the court by Friday, May 20, 2022 for Mastroianni’s review and approval. An additional hearing has been scheduled for Monday, June 6, 2022 if the court deems it necessary before final approval of the settlement. Once approved, this settlement will resolve all claims relating to the COVID-19 outbreak at the facility during the covered dates.
“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,” said Plaintiffs’ lawyer Tom Lesser.
Read the original lawsuit documents filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts: