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Family files lawsuit in nurse’s death

WARREN — In what appears to be the first lawsuit of its kind locally, the family of a nurse who died from COVID-19 is suing his employer in a wrongful death action filed in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court.

Raymond J. Lanzo, 55, Boardman, worked as a nurse at Generations Behavioral Health, 196 Colonial Drive, Liberty.

The suit filed on behalf of Deborah Lanzo, the administrator of her husband’s estate, by Boardman attorney Lynn Sfara Bruno, states the mental health facility allegedly failed or refused to follow COVID-19 directives issued by the state in order to reduce the spread of the virus. This, the filing states, exposed Lanzo to the disease.

Lanzo’s death April 30 was a “direct and proximate result of the actions of the defendant,” the suit states.

“Ray was a good person, a good friend, a good husband and an exemplary nurse. He was a healthy, robust guy who chose a courageous profession and was good at it. He did not deserve to die like this. And, he and his family were further wronged by their inability to be with him as he died. His death was tragic and avoidable,” Sfara Bruno said.

Roxanne Gividen, CEO of the mental health facility, said she has yet to see the lawsuit and so will refrain from commenting on the case.

The company was “negligent” in its failure to provide “appropriate safety equipment,” the suit states.

The suit does not claim the facility was wrong to operate during the pandemic, but that it failed to implement the policies and procedures, and provide the right equipment, that it should have to follow the state’s pandemic directives.

The suit was filed Friday in Common Pleas Judge Peter J. Kontos’ court. No hearings have been set. The suit seeks damages for medical bills, pain and suffering, burial and funeral expenses, court and attorney fees, and other damages.

Lanzo is survived by a son and his wife, along with siblings and other extended family members, according to his obituary with Higgins-Reardon Funeral Home.

Similar suits have been filed across the country, naming retailers, distribution centers, meat processing plants, nursing homes and other care facilities as defendants.

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