Family Sues for Wrongful Death After Healthcare Worker Dies From COVID-19

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It's been three months since Judy Montgomery lost her daughter Monica Montgomery.

Still, it’s not easy for her or Monica’s granddaughters Nya Patton and Taylor Garrette to think back on the virus that claimed her life.  

“The day that the ambulance picked up Monica was very hard for me because I couldn't even hold her, touch her, just to tell her to be calm, momma's here,” said Montgomery.

It was about a week later on Mother’s Day when she died.

“We didn't get to say goodbye,” said Montgomery.

In a lawsuit filed last week, the women claim Montgomery contracted COVID-19 while working as a dietary supervisor at The Arbor Assisted Living and Memory Care in Nacogdoches.

“She loved working with the elderly,” said Montgomery.

It alleges that back in April, she was one of six employees asked to sit with a resident who she wasn't told had tested positive for the virus.

Her family said her only protection was a homemade mask.

Of those six employees, the lawsuit claims four contracted COVID-19 including Montgomery and her daughter Nya, who was also an employee and expecting her first child.

Speaking with NBC 5, she couldn't find the words to express her grief.

Her sister Taylor did through tears.

“I just want people to know that my momma was a loving, caring person and she did anything she could to take care of her parents and her kids and her family,” said Taylor Garrette.

The family's attorneys, William Langley and Daniel Gibbins said the case sets out to prove more could've been done to prevent Montgomery's death.

“COVID-19 is a new danger to all of us. But as we learn about it, we feel facilities such as The Arbor and their directors have responsibilities to their employees to take the necessary precautions given what they know and given the risks that they're aware of,” said William Langley.

The Arbor’s Owner, Dallas-based Prevarian Companies released a statement in response:

"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 material factual inaccuracies that will be cleared up over time, but due to the pending litigation we cannot discuss further at this time."

*Map locations are approximate, central locations for the city and are not meant to indicate where actual infected people live.

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