Boulder County case alleges negligence in COVID treatment

LAFAYETTE — A Boulder County widow and her daughter have filed suit against a Lafayette health-care provider alleging negligence in how their husband and father, respectively, was treated during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Carol Wayne and Melissa Maynell allege that 329 Exempla Circle Operations LLC, which does business as PowerBack Rehabilitation Lafayette, discharged Howard Wayne, 81, after he had been tested for the virus but before the results of that test were known.

The test came back positive, and Howard Wayne died several days later. Unaware of the illness, Carol Wayne and Maynell provided close-contact care for Howard Wayne without use of personal protective equipment. 

Anthony Geiser, executive director of PowerBack in Lafayette, did not respond to a request for comment. However, Lori Mayer, spokesperson for PowerBack, did respond in an email that the company was unable to comment because of pending litigation.

Howard Wayne had been a patient at PowerBack in April 2020 after being treated for a broken femur. He was released on May 8, although another patient at the facility tested positive for COVID on May 6. All staff and patients were then tested.

Carol Wayne was told about the positive test of another patient but was advised, according to the lawsuit, that this was not a cause for concern. One day after discharge, they were advised that Howard Wayne had tested positive. He was then admitted to a hospital and died May 13 while in hospice care.

The plaintiffs allege in the lawsuit that while they did not contract the disease, they did suffer anxiety, stress and emotional disturbance and were forced into quarantine because of the exposure.

PowerBack was investigated and cited by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment for deficient practices, the lawsuit says. 

The plaintiffs seek damages as determined at trial.

Lawsuits — other than those against cruise lines and airlines — have been few, legal experts have said, because of the difficulty of proving a causal link with the source of the infection. 

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