A man whose Korean War veteran father died after catching COVID-19 at a Brooklyn nursing home has filed a wrongful death class action lawsuit against a disgraced ex-governor. Andrew Cuomo and his former assistant Melissa DeRosa.
Daniel Arbeeny, 59, an outspoken critic of Cuomo’s handling of the pandemic, claims his father contracted the coronavirus and died because of a New York state directive that nursing homes admit COVID-19 patients. The ordinance was implemented in March 2020 by the state health department.
“This policy of mandatory admission, non-testing and commingling of nursing home residents constituted reckless endangerment by all defendants,” according to the lawsuit, filed Tuesday in federal court in Brooklyn.
In a phone interview with The Post, Arbeeny said the lawsuit — which also names the state and former Health Department boss Howard Zucker as defendants — is intended to hold state officials to account. It is also an effort to seek justice for families whose loved ones have died in nursing homes.
“It’s a lot of people who are hurting and still hurting now,” Arbeeny said. “Justice must be served.”
Arbeeny’s father, Norman, died at the age of 89 in April 2020, after developing coronavirus symptoms while at Cobble Hill Health Center, a Brooklyn nursing home, the lawsuit says.
He was tested for the virus shortly before his death, according to the filing. Hours after his death, the test came back positive for COVID-19.
The lawsuit notes that within a week of implementing the directive, a field hospital in Central Park, the USS Comfort and the Javits Center could have all coronavirus patients accepted.
“By other regulatory measures. Defendants Cuomo and other New York State health officials made it nearly impossible [for] these facilities are available for COVID-19 patients,” he said.
Arbeeny, a New York native who lives in Cobble Hill, pointed to the fact that a British court ruled this week that Britain’s nursing home policy, which was similar to that of the Empire State, was illegal.
“Cuomo knew what he was doing,” Arbeeny told the Post. “Wrongful death is wrongful death, whether it’s the state or not. It’s wrong. The government needs to make amends for this.”
Her father, a lifelong Brooklynite, served overseas in the Korean War and was a fixture in the Cobble Hill neighborhood, where the Arbeeny family ran a store for many years.
Following his father’s death, Arbeeny gave a number of press interviews, questioning Cuomo’s directive on nursing homes – and suggesting New York’s coronavirus death toll had been understated. valued.
In response to the charges, Cuomo came to the defense and dismissed the complaints as a political stunt, the lawsuit says.
“Defendant Cuomo publicly ridiculed individuals such as Plaintiff, calling their opinions ‘conspiracy theories’ and ‘politically motivated,'” the court document states.
The lawsuit highlights reports, including one from Attorney General Letitia James, which concluded that the number of coronavirus deaths in nursing homes had been underreported by up to 50%.
In a statement, Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi said the order had no effect on COVID outbreaks in nursing homes.
“Despite all the emotion and politics generated around this issue, the facts are that the AG and Assembly critically reviewed this and concluded that the DOH March Order had nothing to do with the introduction of COVID into nursing homes – also, as previously stated, Ms. DeRosa has nothing to do with this directive,” Azzopardi said in an email.
“We expect any fair hearing in court to confirm that as well,” he added.
The Health Department declined to comment, and a representative for Zucker did not immediately respond.
Arbeeny filed the lawsuit after consulting with an attorney, but is not represented by anyone in the civil action. He seeks unspecified damages and a jury trial.
“I’m not going to let this go. We can’t,” he told the Post. “I can’t let this happen again.”
Additional reporting by Zach Williams