Family of COVID-19 victim files suit against Sundale Nursing Home following erroneous death report

Coronavirus

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The family of a Preston County man who died earlier this year from COVID-19 while a resident at Sundale Nursing Home in Morgantown has filed a lawsuit against the facility.

Berthold Law Firm, in Charleston, filed the suit in Monongalia County Circuit Court on behalf of Gregory Wolfe, who is the administrator of the estate of his father, Leonard Wolfe.

The suit surrounds the misreporting of Leonard Wolfe’s death to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, which, in turn, led to the death being reported to the news media in March 2020.

On the morning of March 27, the DHHR put out a press release announcing West Virginia’s first COVID-19 death, a 76-year-old man from Monongalia County, associated with Sundale.

Very shortly after the release, Sundale officials put out a statement that the death had been misreported to the DHHR and that the man was not dead. By early afternoon that day, the DHHR sent out a corrected press release that included a statement from Sundale officials acknowledging and apologizing for the “erroneous reporting.”

Statement from Sundale Nursing Home on March 27, 2020

The lawsuit alleges that Sundale released the information to government agencies, on social media and to others without permission from Wolfe’s family and that the release of the information caused his family members and others to believe that he had died.

The suit accuses Sundale of negligence, reckless infliction of emotional distress (two counts), invasion of privacy (two counts) and outrage.

Attorneys for the Wolfe family are asking that compensatory and punitive damages be levied against Sundale.

Read the full lawsuit here.

Leonard Wolfe died April 3, 2020, according to his obituary. On April 5, a DHHR press release again made reference to the death of a 76-year-old man related to Sundale.

Sundale was the site of the state’s first COVID-19 outbreak, which ended in five deaths.

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