Preparing for wave of Covid-related wrongful death, personal injury lawsuits

The first such case, involving a woman who claims her husband died after she brought home the virus from on-site work during the lockdown, has been cleared to proceed to trial.


Robert Freedman, LegalDive

May 5, 2022


General counsel would benefit from preparing for a potential wave of COVID-related lawsuits now that the California Supreme Court has allowed to go to trial a case in which an employee blames her employer for the death of her husband who she argues contracted the disease when she brought it home from work.


“I think we’re going to see a wave of personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits stemming from COVID,” Clausen Miller Partner Melinda Kollross said in an interview.


Plaintiffs will argue these employment-related cases fall outside workers’ compensation rules because they involve family members and not employees who worked on-site during the lockdown, Kollross said.


In the California case, the first one to reach an appellate court, the state’s top court said in mid-April it won’t review a novel ruling, allowing discovery to go forward to determine whether See’s Candies, the big confectioner, can be held liable for the COVID-related death of the spouse of one of its employees.


“That’s a pretty big deal,” Kollross said of the ruling. “How things will go beyond California, I don’t know; states write workers’ comp laws differently, so you can’t generalize. But even if it’s just in California, that’s a significant ruling.”


High hurdle ...


Business interruption ...


Personal injury, wrongful death wave ...


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