Employee Dies After Contracting COVID At Luncheon
The family of a worker has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the employer of their loved one after the worker contracted COVID at a company luncheon. He contracted the disease in March of 2020, at the height of the pandemic. At the time, his Iowa employer scheduled a luncheon but the Governor had limited gatherings to no more than 10 people. In this case, the employer violated the law to schedule the luncheon.
While most COVID lawsuits have been barred by statute, the employer took on liability when they decided to violate the governor’s order and do whatever they wanted. They scheduled the luncheon, gave away free prizes, and posted images to social media to prove that they had violated the Governor’s order. Now, the company is facing a wrongful death lawsuit. They will likely say that they are immune from such lawsuits based on COVID-19 immunity passed by most states and/or employer immunity resulting from workers’ compensation.
The company had no COVID-19 standard at all for their employees. Employees were on a point system. If they missed 7 days of work without leave, they could be terminated. While employees wouldn’t accrue points after a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis, they would accrue points while they waited for the results of their test. There was no mandatory COVID quarantine for symptomatic employees. They basically just ignored every protocol that the CDC and their local government imposed. In this case, the employee continued to go to work even after he contracted the illness and became symptomatic. He died after 2 months of hospitalization.
This lawsuit is winnable. Even if COVID-19 immunity protections were passed, the employer’s conduct was so grossly negligent that they would not be protected under the bill. Further, Iowa provides specific protections to workers who are exposed to danger based on gross negligence. Such workers can, in limited situations, file lawsuits against their employers if the employer shows “wanton neglect for the workers’ safety”. In this case, the employer ignored the law, ignored the COVID pandemic, ignored all safety recommendations, and handed out steaks to employees at a required luncheon.
If the lawsuit were filed in another state, the employer could not be held liable even if they committed gross negligence. Instead, OSHA would step in, slap them with a minimal fine, and their insurer would be forced to pay death benefits to the family. The consequences for such conduct in these states is minimal. The company’s insurer would be required to pay death benefits regardless of how negligent their conduct was. OSHA fines seldom go over $100,000. But wrongful death lawsuits, especially those involving allegations of willful misconduct and gross negligence, tend to settle for a million or more.
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If you have been injured due to the misconduct or negligence of another party, call the Miami personal injury attorneys at the office of Alan Goldfarb, P.A. today to schedule a free consultation and discuss your situation in more detail.