(TheFreedomFlag.com)-The first wave of coronavirus liability lawsuits has begun.
Major employers around the country have been sued by families of workers who say their loved ones were infected by COVID-19 while on the job.
According to a Wall Street Journal report, major employers such as Tyson Foods Inc., Safeway Inc., Walmart Inc. and other health-care facilities are facing lawsuits that claim everything from wrongful death to gross negligence. The plaintiffs say the companies didn’t do enough to protect their family members from contracting COVID-19 while on the job, and they should be compensated as a result.
Some workers who survived COVID-19 are also suing these and other companies, asking to have their medical bills covered, as well as damages and future earnings paid to them.
In response, the companies say they took many steps to combat coronavirus in the workplace. This includes requiring workers to wear masks, limiting the capacity of people who were allowed inside, screening workers for medical signs of coronavirus, and sanitizing workspaces.
Some of the companies say it’s impossible to truly know where each person contracted coronavirus, especially as the spread was so significant in many parts of the country in the spring.
These lawsuits are exactly what Republican Senators were concerned about when they crafted their version of the latest economic relief package. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been especially adamant that no bill will be passed unless it includes liability protection for businesses that are likely to get sued for similar reasons.
To date, more than 150,000 Americans have lost their lives due to COVID-19.
Lawsuits related to COVID-19 deaths threaten to cripple businesses across every industry. Republicans worry that not only could this directly impact them financially, but it could also convince some business owners to simply not re-open at all, for fear that similar claims could be levied against them in the future.
The president of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform, Harold Kim, said he’s worried about what might come down the line.
“The amount of litigation on the horizon is enormous,” he said.
The Senate’s relief package included language that would make it harder for employees to sue companies if they were to contract coronavirus on the job. The bill would protect schools, churches and businesses from being held liable for COVID-19 infections, starting back in December 2019.
The bill would not protect these entities if they acted with “willful misconduct or engaged in grossly negligent behavior.”
The Senate’s proposal would cap punitive damages that could be received as the result of these lawsuits. It would also set a “clear-and-convincing-evidence” burden of proof, raising the requirements for personal injury lawsuits in the process.
The lawsuits would also be held in federal court, not local courts. It’s a move that many see as a push to help these defendants, who often are seen more favorable in federal court than they are at local levels.
But House Democrats have said they are against liability protections. Led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrats have said they want to focus instead on bolstering worker protections, a move they suggest could be done by beefing up rules for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.