A California appellate court has upheld the lawsuit of a woman who claims she contracted the coronavirus while working at a See’s Candies factory and passed it on to her 72-year-old husband who later died from the virus.
According to an article in The Daily Mail, the California Court of Appeals, Second Appellate District, ruled this week that Matilde Ek can sue her employer, See’s Candies, for damages despite the candy maker’s arguments that the woman must file workers’ compensation because her husband Arturo’s death was “derivative” of her workplace illness.
But Ek said she contracted the virus because of poor safety protocols at the candy manufacturing facility where she worked. In the lawsuit, she said workers were not physically distanced and those experiencing COVID symptoms were made to work alongside healthy workers.
Ek worked in a See’s Candies plant in Carson, California. She became ill in March 2020 and was cared for at home by her husband and one of their daughters, both of whom were diagnosed with COVID-19 a few weeks later.
Reasoning Behind the Decision
The judges were unanimous in their 3-0 decision in ruling that household members are not bound by the limits placed on employees under the state’s workers’ compensation law. They said family members can sue an employer whose negligence or carelessness causes an employee’s death for any hardship they also suffered because of their relative’s workplace injury, such as a COVID infection.
The judge wrote in her decision that had the court accepted the company’s argument, it would have to shield employers, for example, from the damage claims of bus passengers who were infected by a bus driver who unknowingly contracted the virus and continued driving. The company can appeal this decision to the state Supreme Court, but they have not indicated if they will do so.
Employers’ Responsibilities in COVID Times and See’s Candies Liability
This case sets an important precedent in cases where workers contract COVID and infect loved ones at home with fatal consequences. Employers are responsible for protecting employees from the transmission of the virus by providing them with personal protective equipment, sanitizing the area, and maintaining social distancing. However, we’ve seen a number of companies forego these life-saving measures as they try to maximize profits in tough times. Their employees pay the ultimate price with their lives.
If you or a loved one has died due to COVID-19 because of lax safety procedures at work, you may have grounds for a lawsuit against your employer. It is important that you contact an experienced California personal injury lawyer who can help evaluate your case and uphold your legal rights.