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Massachusetts reaches $56 million settlement in deadly Holyoke Soldiers' Home COVID outbreak

HOLYOKE – Massachusetts has reached a $56 million settlement with the Holyoke Soldiers' Home in a class action lawsuit related to the deadly COVID-19 outbreak at the facility in 2020.

From March 1-June 23, 2020, more than 160 veterans contracted COVID and 84 died.

Under the agreement, veterans who contracted COVID but survived will be awarded no less than $10,000 with an average payment of $20,000.

Estates of veterans who died before June 23, 2020 will receive no less than $400,000 with an average of $510,000.

The payments will not be reduced by attorney fees.  

"The COVID-19 outbreak at the Holyoke Soldiers' Home was a terrible tragedy. While we know nothing can bring back those who were lost, we hope that this settlement brings a sense of closure to the loved ones of the veterans," Gov. Charlie Baker said in a statement.

Baker plans to file legislation seeking the funding for the settlement in the coming weeks.

"There is no amount of money that can compensate our clients for the loss of their loved ones.  But our clients are grateful that the Commonwealth has acted to resolve this matter without the need for protracted litigation by agreeing to compensate both the families of those who died of COVID, as well as the veterans who survived. The settlement is fair and just," plaintiffs' lawyer Tom Lesser said in a statement.

An Inspector General's report found Holyoke Soldiers' Home superintendent Bennett Walsh lacked leadership and temperament to run the facility.

Walsh and former Medical Director Dr. David Clinton were indicted in 2020 for the decision to combine two dementia units, placing residents who were positive for COVID into a space with those without symptoms. The charges were later dismissed.

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