Geneva care facility's operator faces four more lawsuits over COVID-19 deaths

Updated 6/8/2020 7:26 PM

Four more wrongful-death lawsuits involving COVID-19 fatalities have been filed against Bria Health Services, which operates long-term care facility in Geneva, bringing the total to six, according to Kane County court records.

"What happened here is not a matter of bad luck," said attorney Michael Lenert, who represents families in five of the lawsuits. "It is our contention that Bria's ownership chose to ignore the necessary measures to keep both its residents and staff safe. These lawsuits are aimed primarily at holding Bria's management accountable to ensure that future residents and staff do not suffer the same fate."


The estate of Helen A. Osuchas, who died April 26, was the first to file suit on May 18. The estate of Lucille Helen James, who died on May 1, sued Bria on May 19.

In the last two weeks, four more lawsuits have been filed, seeking more than $50,000 in damages in each case. They echo the allegations made in the initial suit -- that the Bria facility at 1101 E. State St. in Geneva ignored mandates from Gov. J.B. Pritzker and preventive directives from state and federal agencies, leaving residents defenseless and vulnerable to the virus.

The estates of Rose H. Doneske, who died April 28, and the estate of Jack DeFrancesco, who died April 26, filed suit on May 27. The estate of Marion May Heotis, who died April 29, sued on June 1, and the estate of Carol Orlando, who died April 25, sued on Friday.

Messages left for the director of the Geneva facility on Friday and Monday were not returned.

Bria Health Services in mid-May said the facility has been following public health guidelines, which have "continuously evolved" as more information became available.

"Because testing was not immediately accessible, the high number of asymptomatic carriers among residents and staff created a silent enemy impossible to detect and difficult to defeat," part of the statement said. "These form the backdrop of why the state of Illinois has granted immunity to health care providers for injuries stemming from the diagnoses, transmission and treatment of COVID-19."

The lawsuit from Osuchas' estate is scheduled to be in court on Aug. 3. Other suits have their first court appearances set for late August.

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