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(Reuters) – A California candy maker has to face a lawsuit from an employee who says she caught COVID-19 at work and gave it to her husband, which resulted in his death, the state appeals court held on Tuesday, confirming what appeared to be the first verdict allowing a workers ’lawsuit against an employer for the death of a family member from COVID.
The California Court of Appeals, Second District of Appeals, rejected See’s Candies, a South San Francisco-based claim that Matilda Ek’s employee must claim workers’ compensation instead of seeking compensation in court because her husband’s death was “derived” from her own workplace injuries. .
The attorney for the company owned by Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE 🙂 Inc had no immediate comment.
Eka’s lawyer was not immediately available for comment. Nor could the American Chamber of Commerce, which weighed its legal claim backed by See’s.
Ek and her three daughters sued See’s last year, saying she got COVID-19 because the company did not provide workplace safety. Her husband Arturo Ek then got the disease from her while she was recovering at home and eventually died from it, she said.
See’s responded that Arthur Ek’s death was a “derivative” of Ek’s alleged workplace injury. That meant she was covered by workers’ compensation, and Ek could not sue in court for that, the company said.
However, the court allowed the case to continue. See’s on appeal argued that the decision was “extraordinary” and was rejected by other courts considering similar cases related to COVID-19.
The appeals court, however, said Arthur Eck’s death was not the result of his wife becoming ill, but was instead directly caused by the COVID-19 virus, which his wife served as a “conduit”. He cited a decision by the Federal Court of Appeals allowing a similar case due to hepatitis infection.
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