EXCLUSIVE: Nacogdoches assisted living facility facing lawsuit after family claims employee died from COVID-19

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NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KETK) – A Nacogdoches family is suing an assisted living facility after two members of the same family claim they contracted COVID-19 while working there.

One of them died.

According to the lawsuit, Monica Montgomery tested positive for the virus after coming into contact with a resident at the Arbor Assisted Living and Memory Care facility.

The family claims Montgomery was never told the resident was infected and claims management sent Montgomery to help that patient without adequate protection. Now, Montgomery’s family is pleading for answers.

“My heart is broken into little pieces when I say little pieces, little pieces,” said Judy Montgomery, Monica’s mother, as she tried to hold back tears.

According to the family, Montgomery worked at the Arbor facility for 12 years and would often boast about how much she loved her job. Monica’s sister says she would take pride in her the care she would give residents.

Montgomery claims her daughter Monica and her granddaughter Nya Patton both contracted COVID-19 while working at the Arbor facility. Patton was pregnant at the time she tested positive. Monica later died.

Nya Patton was tested for COVID-19 on April 22, 2020, and Monica Montgomery was tested two days later, both after experiencing symptoms of the virus. Both tested positive. Monica died from complications related to the virus on May 10, 2020.

“For her to pass on Mother’s Day, Mother’s Day will never be the same, it will never be the same,” said Montgomery.

Now, the family is demanding answers. According to court documents, Monica Montgomery was at a higher risk of getting infected due to her health.

The document goes into detail stating on April 8, 2020, an unidentified resident of the Arbor returned to the facility after a hospital stay. During the resident’s hospitalization, the resident was tested for COVID-19. It is unknown whether the results were made available to Arbor management when they returned to the facility.

However, the lawsuit does say when management was told, they did not inform employees, including Monica Montgomery. Going on to claim, management would assign staff to sit with her at all times. Although she took precautions to isolate the resident and those who attended her, from the rest of the Arbor population, management did not warn the assigned employees of the resident’s illness or take steps to protect them from infection.

The lawsuit was filed just one day before Governor Gregg Abbott loosened restrictions on Senior Living facilities, allowing safety regulated visits.

Daniel Gibson is just one of the family’s lawyers.

“The reason we are suing is for wrongful death of Monica Montgomery,” explained Gibbons.

Montgomery’s family decided to take legal action hoping other agencies and businesses will take the virus more seriously, and keep both residents and staff safe.

“Companies going forward will understand, even though we are in unchartered waters, and we are dealing with difficult times, and a lot of questions, people still have to act reasonably, we still have to take care, they still have to exercise caution,” said William Langley, another lawyer representing the family, from the Houston law firm, Williams Hart.

Full statement from Prevarian, on behalf of Arbor Assisted Living and Community:

We are aware of the lawsuit pertaining to Ms. Montgomery. First of all, on behalf of the owners of the Arbor Assisted Living Community, we express our condolences to Ms. Montgomery’s family. We are deeply saddened to have lost one of our employees to this new and horrible virus that is wreaking havoc throughout the world. The Arbor prides itself on taking care of our senior residents and employees. We have implemented, and continue to implement, safety protocols in accordance with and as directed by State and Federal guidelines in an effort to protect our residents and employees from the coronavirus. Currently, there are no active cases of Covid-19 at the Arbor. As it relates to the lawsuit, we vehemently deny the claims made in the lawsuit and intend to defend ourselves in court. The lawsuit contains factual inaccuracies that will be cleared up over time, but due to the pending litigation we cannot discuss further at this time.

Dodd Crutcher, Prevarian Companies

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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