The devastating impact of the novel coronavirus, commonly known as COVID-19, on non-essential businesses, from retailers, to restaurants, bars, professional sports, and entertainment has been widely acknowledged and its ripple effect felt nationwide.
In response, federal, state, regional, and local governments launched conversations on how to re-open and effectively deal with the fall-out. While a few companies limped through by furloughing or dismissing employees, others shuttered.
At Kramer Trial Lawyers, we understand businesses, whether small, medium, or large are the heartbeat of America, and they need to re-open in order to thrive. However, with the long arms of the pandemic raging, we also firmly believe businesses should act responsibly to protect their workers and patrons from contracting COVID-19 while at the establishment, and thereby the public at large.
What is known: on April 22, 2020, White House Economic Advisor Larry Kudlow expressed his optimism for the phased re-opening of the United States. However, Kudlow conveyed that businesses should not be held liable if citizens contract COVID-19 as a consequence of their re-opening.
“Businesses, particularly small businesses that don’t have massive resources, [and] should not be held liable — should not be held to trial lawyers putting on false lawsuits that will probably be thrown out of court,” Kudlow told CNBC. “You have to give the businesses some confidence here that if something happens, and it may not be their fault — I mean, the disease is an infectious disease.”
What this means: businesses may shirk their responsibility to keep their workers and patrons safe. Kudlow’s statements are jarring and irresponsible.
Kudlow shared with CNBC (Politico.com) “that he is not worried about safety measures slipping if companies aren’t held liable, suggesting that states would do ‘a very good job’ monitoring the businesses.”
It is well-settled law in California that businesses, including restaurants, have a duty to maintain their property in a clean, safe condition for the protection of its patrons. Everyday examples of how companies fulfill this duty are by placing wet floor signs on an impacted area when an employee has mopped, clearly and visibly marking staircases and other openings, sanitizing and keeping workspaces clean and tidy, and by keeping floors clear of tripping hazards. When businesses follow proper safety procedures, then they should not have to worry about civil liability.
It is the duty of a business to eliminate dangers they knew or should have known to exist, and that business must be held accountable for upholding their commitment in our justice system.
What does this mean for employees and patrons?
If state governments allow businesses to operate without repercussions for failure to uphold safety protocols, it will place both employees and patrons at risk of harm of contracting COVID-19. This informal logic allows businesses to cut corners for safety with little to no repercussions to them if they cannot be held accountable for disease spread. Allowing businesses to operate, as Larry Kudlow is proposing, on an “honor system,” is a grave concern.
Demand protection in the new normal and brace for the second wave.
As lawmakers delve into exposure and responsibility, Daniel Kramer, partner Kramer Trial Lawyers, shares, “We have fought and won multiple cases of personal injury and wrongful dismissal. While COVID-19 is a new set of rules, we remind businesses to actively engage in protecting their employees and patrons. Sadly, in this new normal, I anticipate many will sidestep their responsibilities, which will return our team to the courts of law, protecting the harmed.”
“We have fought and won multiple cases of personal injury and wrongful termination. While Covid-19 will set a new set of rules, businesses must actively engage in protecting their employees and patrons. Sadly, I anticipate many will sidestep their responsibilities, and the only recourse for those injured will be the justice system.” Dan Kramer, Partner, Kramer Trial Lawyers APC
To read more visit: Kudlow: Businesses shouldn’t be held liable for employees and customers getting coronavirus.
If you are a business owner that has been affected by COVID-19, please contact Kramer Trial Lawyers at (310) 551-0600.