A new trend relating to COVID-19 lawsuits is emerging. Employers are now facing lawsuits for “Take Home” infections.
In August, the daughter of Esperanza Ugalde filed a lawsuit against her father’s employer alleging that her mother died of COVID-19 that her father contracted during the scope of his employment at a meat processing plant. The complaint alleges that Ricardo Ugalde worked as a butcher and was “shoulder to shoulder” with his coworkers while working on the processing line. The plaintiff further alleges that the meat processing plant was aware that other employees had become infected with COVID-19 but took no measures to mitigate the spread within the facility.
The complaint includes several negligent actions against the employer. Some of those actions include failure to warn when it knew or should have known of a COVID-19 outbreak at the facility and actively creating a risk of harm for its employees and those with close contact with those employees by not disinfecting the facility nor providing personal protective equipment (PPE).
This idea of “Take Home” exposure is nothing new. In fact, asbestos litigation has been dealing with these types of cases for quite a while. Praedicat, a firm that evaluates risks for insurers, states that 7% to 9% of U.S. COVID-19 deaths are believed to come from take-home infections. The firm further believes that if American fatalities reaches 300,000, businesses could see a cost up to $21 billion in litigation.
To be successful, the plaintiff must show a strong causal chain that connects the sick family member to the worker, and then to the employer and the employer’s alleged negligent actions. Despite this hurdle, businesses should still protect themselves by establishing proper safety procedures for its employees by following CDC guidelines, OSHA regulations, and state and local laws.
Employment and labor law.
Justin Ijei and the Employment Law team at RDM can help your business eliminate potential risks before they arrive.