Family of nurse who died of COVID-19 files wrongful death lawsuit against Northland care facility

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The family of a local health care worker has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against her former employer. 

Attorneys at the Welder Firm said 60-year-old Tracy Kolterman was working as a nurse at McCrite Plaza Senior Living when she contracted COVID-19. 

“Tracy was a beloved nurse, wife, mother. She has three children; she has 16 grandchildren,” said Kristie Welder, partner at the Welder Firm. “Tracy stepped up during the pandemic, as all our health care workers did, putting herself on the line every day.” 

On Dec. 19, Kolterman was admitted to the hospital with COVID-19. She died a month later. Her family’s attorneys said she caught the virus at work. 

“So now her family is having not just the loss of their loved one as tragic and potentially even preventable as it is, but also devastating medical bills from the five weeks she spent dying in the hospital and loss of her salary and funeral benefits,” Welder said. 

Welder said Kolterman’s husband Greg tried to file a worker’s compensation claim after her death, but was denied, even after they said Kolterman was told the company would honor her claim.  

The facility had a cluster of cases in May 2020, according to the Kansas City Health Department.  

“We’re investigating reports that have come to our attention that McCrite Plaza was failing to alert nurses about coronavirus cases and in one case a resident,” Welder said. 

FOX4 reached out to McCrite about the lawsuit. In response, the company sent us the letter they sent to employees to announce Kolterman’s death. The letter says, in part, “She was a very caring nurse that put our residents first over her own pending health condition.” 

As lawyers continue to fight to get justice for the Kolterman family and half a dozen others in similar situations, partner Brent Welder said he’s concerned about Missouri’s Senate Bill 51, which would make it more difficult to hold businesses accountable if an employee catches coronavirus at work. 

“At the time that we most seriously need protections under the law against violators of safety, Republicans in the Missouri Legislature are trying to pass laws shielding companies from their very responsibility to keep us safe,” Brent Welder said. 

In the coming months, lawyers will present evidence hoping to prove that McCrite should be liable for Kolterman’s death.  

“The laws are very clear if you contract of virus such as this at work and you suffered injuries from it you should be entitled to compensation under the workers compensation law,” Brent Welder said. 

“However [companies] know that if they delay, deny or retaliate against people making claims that they can push off paying as long as possible and their hope is to never have to pay people whatsoever.” 

The Welder Firm gives free legal advice to people whose loved ones have died or have serious injury after potentially contracting coronavirus at work. 

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