The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Tort claim filed against county, city in April death


Last updated 9/26/2020 at 2:09pm

A tort claim has been filed against several local and state entities regarding an alleged April death from COVID-19.

A claim filed Tuesday by the Davis Kelin Law Firm of Albuquerque alerts the New Mexico Department of Health, the New Mexico State Risk Management Division, Clovis Mayor Mike Morris, Curry County Manager Lance Pyle and Clerk Annie Hogland of a tort claim notice sent on behalf of the wrongful death estate of Jennifer Rubino.

The News acquired copies of the tort claim through open records requests to the city of Clovis and Curry County.

A tort claim is filed against government entities for claims of injury or wrongful death, providing entities an opportunity to settle claims and to give plaintiffs a two-year window to pursue a legal claim.

The claim provides notice of potential legal action "based on the substandard care provided to Jennifer Rubino by staff and agents of the New Mexico Department of Health in or around April 2020,” and alleges failure to follow proper procedure and protocol when Rubino, who died April 14, reported symptoms that were not considered as COVID risk factors sufficient to warrant admission to a medical facility.

The Department of Health did not report a COVID-19 death in Curry County until July, that victim was a man.

An attempt to contact representatives for the Department of Health Wednesday was not immediately successful. Pyle and Hogland declined comment, citing pending litigation. Morris said he had yet to see the tort claim, and City Manager Justin Howalt said city officials were still trying to determine exactly why they were included in the claim.

Gina Downes, the Davis Kelin attorney listed as the point of contact for the claim, declined comment Wednesday.

We will provide more information as it becomes available.


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