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COVID-19 testing lab sues Rowley nursing home

Daily News of Newburyport - 11/25/2021

Nov. 25—ROWLEY — A Maryland-based laboratory filed suit against Sea View Skilled Nursing and Rehab Services this week, claiming the nursing home has yet to settle its bill of more than $60,000 for COVID-19 testing of employees at the facility.

The lawsuit, filed Monday in Salem Superior Court, claims Sea View on Mansion Drive has an outstanding balance of $62,231 plus interest and late fees for employee testing done by TridentCare of Sparks, Maryland.

Numerous attempts to collect the debt have been fruitless, prompting laboratory officials to seek the court's help, according to the lawsuit.

Sea View owner Steve Comley Jr. created waves in September when he threatened to close the facility if the state forced him to vaccinate all employees by Oct. 10. As of Wednesday, the business remained open.

When reached for comment Wednesday, Comley declined to speak about the lawsuit other than to say it had been "settled."

Comley's claim could not be confirmed, however. A Salem Superior Court clerk said that as of Wednesday afternoon, the lawsuit remained active but a court date has not been scheduled. A phone call to a TridentCare spokesperson was not returned.

In September, Comley claimed 25% of his roughly 50 employees refused to be vaccinated, a decision he said he did not have the moral right to enforce.

"I believe they have the right to make that choice," Comley said. "We're not in jail and we're not a socialist country, yet."

Sea View Skilled Nursing & Rehab Services has been owned by the Comley family since 1954. Licensed to care up to 140 residents, there were about 30 residents there as of September.

Sea View entered into an agreement with TridentCare on June 5, 2020, to test facility employees for COVID-19 at $155 per test.

Sea View agreed to pay any invoice sent to it by TridentCare within 30 days and also agreed to pay a 5% late fee as well as interest of 1% per month for any outstanding balances, according to the lawsuit.

Although Sea View paid for many of the tests, it still has to pay $62,231, not including interest and late fees. TridentCare made "multiple attempts" to collect the money, but to no avail. Those attempts included spending money on lawyers and additional costs.

"Sea View has refused to meaningfully respond to TridentCare's repeated requests for payment, or otherwise make any additional payments that it owes TridentCare for the services TridentCare performed under the COVID testing agreement," the lawsuit reads.

The lawsuit includes a breach of contract claim that resulted in TridentCare suffering damages.

"Sea View appreciated and understood the benefit of the goods and services that TridentCare provided, but has not compensated TridentCare for their value of the benefit that TridentCare conferred," the lawsuit states.

In addition to collecting its debt, TridentCare is asking the court to award damages and costs associated with pursuing the lawsuit along with any other relief the court deems appropriate, according to the lawsuit.

Dave Rogers is a reporter with the Daily News of Newburyport. Email him at: Follow him on Twitter @drogers41008.

Dave Rogers is a reporter with the Daily News of Newburyport. Email him at: Follow him on Twitter @drogers41008.


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