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Why Employers Are Vulnerable To “Take-Home” Covid Lawsuits

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October 14, 2020

It’s a growing litigation niche that could generate billions in liabilities, following a pattern that became familiar in asbestos litigation, says a recent Reuters article. These cases allege company liability “even though the plaintiff never set foot on their premises.” The article provides details on two of these lawsuits, one of which followed the death of a woman whose husband is alleged to have contracted the virus while working in an Illinois meat packing plant. In these lawsuits, not unlike asbestos take-home cases, companies can be vulnerable to substantial liability because of an intrinsic feature of U.S. workers comp law: The fact the employee is not the plaintiff means liability caps that come into play with workplace injury claims do not apply. A risk evaluation firm cited in this article maintains that take-home Covid lawsuits could cost businesses “up to $21 billion if the number of Americans fatalities reaches 300,000.” The firm’s CEO, however, notes that is a worst-case scenario, and the actual numbers will depend on how these cases play out in court.

 

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