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Judge Invalidates Firing Of Holyoke Soldiers' Home Boss

Holyoke Soldiers' Home Superintendent Bennett Walsh speaking at the 2020 Iwo Jima Day ceremony at the State House. (Photo: Chris Van Buskirk/SHNS/File)
Former Holyoke Soldiers' Home Superintendent Bennett Walsh speaking at the 2020 Iwo Jima Day ceremony at the State House. (Chris Van Buskirk/SHNS/File)

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker's administration wrongfully fired the head of a home for aging veterans where nearly 80 people sickened with the coronavirus have died, a judge has ruled.

The Hampden Superior Court judge's ruling on Monday invalidates the firing of former Holyoke Soldiers' Home Superintendent Bennett Walsh, MassLive.com reported.

Walsh was fired in June after investigators released a report pointing to “utterly baffling” decisions made by the superintendent and his leadership team that helped the disease run rampant at the home. The independent investigators said that Walsh was not qualified to run a long-term care facility.

Walsh's lawyer argued that only the home's board of trustees can hire and fire the superintendent. Walsh has defended his actions and accused the Baker administration of denying the home emergency aid as staff worked to protect the residents from the virus.

It's not immediately clear what Monday's decision means for Walsh, or whether the state will appeal the decision. A spokesperson for the Executive Office of Health and Human Services said in an email statement that "the administration is reviewing the court's decision."

With additional reporting from WBUR's Miriam Wasser.

This article was originally published on September 22, 2020.

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