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Lawsuit accuses Bloomington facility of ‘gross negligence’ in COVID-19 death

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BLOOMINGTON (WEEK) - Bloomington Rehab and Health endured a COVID-19 outbreak in May 2020 that ended with 11 residents dead. One of those residents, 72-year-old Marlene Hill, is named in a lawsuit against the parent company of the Bloomington Facility, Petersen Health Care.

The Peoria-based company filed a motion to move the lawsuit to Federal Court on Monday.

Anita Martin of Bloomington is named as the plaintiff in the lawsuit filed November 20 by the Levin & Perconti law firm based out of Chicago. The lawsuit alleges Martin's mother, Marlene Hill became sick while living at the long term care facility and tested positive for COVID just days before she died.

Martin said the place she entrusted to provide care for her mother did not hold up to their end of the deal.

"I mean this was the straw that broke the camel's back to Marlene's peril sadly. Marlene had called her daughter Anita on her cell phone multiple times throughout her stay at the facility to complain or say that people weren't taking care of her," said Megan Shore, the attorney representing the family.

The facility is accused of "gross negligence" in their response to COVID. The 48-page lawsuit alleged the outbreak that caused Hill's death was the result of mismanagement, misallocation of resources, understaffing, and repeated safety violations.

"She was saying she had shortness of breath, pain, and then eventually by the time she did go to the hospital she was incoherent and in a fetal position," said Shore.

The lawsuit also alleges the victim, Hill, did not have her vitals and health checked on by staff members from May 9-14 prior to a call to the hospital and her eventual death on May 15.

Martin is seeking "in excess of $50,000" to "compensate Marlene and her loved ones for the shocking and utterly reckless conduct of the Defendant nursing home."

"This is another situation that we've seen in nursing home cases very often, where its 'profits over patients' and that needs to stop," said Shore.

The lawsuit is being reviewed to determine whether it will be seen in McLean County Court where it was filed or moved to Federal Court. A representative from Levin & Perconti said they wish to continue to the case in McLean County Court.

"Just absolutely heartbroken disappointed. And perhaps disgusted that they could do this to someone," said Shore.

We reached out to Petersen Health Care for comment and they said they do not comment on pending litigation.

Jan. 12, 2021: This article has been updated to provide comments from Anita Martin, who was named in the lawsuit as the plaintiff, and her lawyer.

Kyle Beachy

Kyle Beachy is a Multimedia Journalist for 25 News and Heart of Illinois. Born and raised in Kokomo, Indiana, he attended Indiana Wesleyan University where he studied Education and played baseball. He comes to us from Columbus, Ohio where he received a Master’s Degree from The Ohio State University.

Paige Blanzy

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