Past asbestos-related litigation popularized the term “take-home” lawsuits (e.g., employee inadvertently carried asbestos fibers home from work, causing health issues for family members). Several new COVID-related lawsuits are based on the same theory. In one such lawsuit, a man was infected with COVID at work and subsequently spread the virus to his wife (Esparanza Ugalde), and she died. Note that employees’ family members are not beholden to the same worker’s compensation liability caps as employees who contract an illness at work.
Business Takeaway: Potential exposure here is huge. For comparison, many asbestos cases have resulted in damages in the millions of dollars (including $27.3 million in a single California case). In two recent COVID cases, the respective business owners may have been negligent regarding COVID safety protocols, which would significantly increase their liability. To minimize your exposure, ensure that you are following federal, state, and local mandates, and that you are following up-to-date practices for employee safety. If you have questions or concerns about existing mandates, federal or state guidelines, or your existing workplace safety procedures, contact Mark at 414-446-8800 or firstname.lastname@example.org.