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Local News

Symphony of Joliet sued over resident's coronavirus death: lawsuit

Symphony of Joliet, 306 N. Larkin Avenue, Joliet.
Symphony of Joliet, 306 N. Larkin Avenue, Joliet.

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The daughter of an 84-year-old man who died from coronavirus has filed a lawsuit that claims his death was the result of gross negligence from the Symphony of Joliet nursing home.

David Mitchell was a resident of Symphony of Joliet, 306 N. Larkin Ave., from Feb. 2, 2019, until March 30, according to the lawsuit that was filed Thursday evening at the Will County Courthouse.

Mitchell died from coronavirus as a result of the nursing home’s “gross negligence” and his death was the “byproduct of years of the nursing home’s mismanagement, misallocation of resources and understaffing, and repeated violations and cited deficiencies of infection control and prevention requirement,” the lawsuit claimed.

In a news release, Mitchell’s daughter Dottie Wallace, the plaintiff, said Symphony of Joliet had claimed "there weren’t any cases there.”

“But the truth was that they just weren’t testing for them. Even after my father developed a fever and a cough, he wasn’t tested,” Wallace said.

The Chicago law firm Levin & Perconti is representing Wallace in the lawsuit. Attorney Steve Levin said in a news release that Symphony of Joliet had a history of cited violations of infection control practices long before the coronavirus outbreak.

“They’d agreed to a plan of correction and had all the resources and information necessary to ensure sufficient levels of staff to provide skilled nursing care and treatment to all residents, including David, in accordance with their care plans. But they willfully continued on with inadequate staffing and poor practices through a deadly pandemic,” Levin said.

Wallace's attorney Margaret Battersby Blac said the "gross negligence here is truly shocking."

Symphony spokeswomen Natalie Bauer Luce said in a statement that the lawsuit was "baseless and sends a dangerous message to patients, families and health care workers still fighting COVID-19 on the frontlines."

"It only serves as free publicity for TV lawyers who seek to profit by taking advantage of the global pandemic, highlighting why Gov. Pritzker issued an executive order of immunity for frontline health care workers," Luce said.

She said Wallace's lawyers "ignored the facts about the heroic efforts by the medical and support staff who worked around the clock to save the lives of our patients."

"We mourn the loss of Mr. Mitchell and grieve with his family but we also know Symphony implemented infectious disease prevention protocols long before the federal government’s inconsistent and delayed guidance and at all times has exceeded the CDC guidelines," Luce said.

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