Judge Rejects Publix’s Appeal to Dismiss a COVID-19 Wrongful Death Lawsuit
According to TampaBay.com, a Miami-Dade County judge rejected Publix’s request to throw out a wrongful death lawsuit that blames Publix for negligently managing employee safety during the initial stages of the coronavirus pandemic. Publix’s defense attorneys argued that the death case should be handled by a worker’s compensation court. According to court records and the news report, According to court records, Judge Carlos Lopez filed his denial of Publix’s motion after making his decision in Miami-Dade circuit court.
The lawsuit states that a 70-year-old deli employee who worked at Publix in Miami Beach died due to medical complications caused by acquiring COVID-19. The wrongful death lawsuit, which his adult daughter filed, claims that her father contracted the coronavirus from another coworker while Publix prevented employees from wearing masks to work. The judge’s decision means the case will continue to move forward in court.
Publix refused to provide any comments about the lawsuit’s allegations or the judge’s ruling. Publix only stated that the company does not comment on pending litigation. In an attempt to have the case dismissed, Publix’s attorneys wrote that the lawsuit is “littered with inflammatory and unsupported rhetoric” and that the victim sustained a workplace accident, which should be handled as a worker’s compensation claim.
Publix’s motion also argued that the family’s attorney did not establish that their client could be “virtually certain” that employees would die if they contract COVID-19. Publix’s attorneys also argued that the plaintiffs would need to confirm that all, or almost all of Publix’s employees who contracted COVID-19, passed away from the virus.
In his filed response, the attorney for the family said that what occurred to the elderly deli worker was “entirely predictable.” The deaths caused by the coronavirus and the protective benefits of wearing a mask were well documented before the victim contracted the coronavirus. Therefore, contracting and dying of COVID-19 was not unique or unexpected.
The victim’s attorney stated that Publix’s effort to turn the wrongful death lawsuit into a worker’s compensation case was not only wrong but would have left the family unable to obtain justice and compensation. He also stated that apparently, Publix does not want to take any responsibility for the tragedy.
According to Florida worker’s compensation laws, only children under the age of 18 or under the age of 22 and a full-time student or spouses are allowed to be benefactors workplace accident claims involving death. The four surviving adult children filed the wrongful death case on behalf of their father. Under Florida worker’s compensation laws, none of the children would be classified as dependents.
The COVID-19 wrongful death lawsuit repeats what was reported in an April 2020 Tampa Bay Times story that reported Publix prohibited mask usage in the initial weeks of the coronavirus pandemic, and Publix was one of the last retailers to permit and require employees to wear masks.
The Tampa Bay Times interviewed Publix employees who stated that the grocer was concerned that employees wearing masks and gloves would scare away customers. These statements are documented in official employee complaints that have been filed with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
CONTACT PARKER WAICHMAN LLP FOR A FREE CASE REVIEW
Did you lose a loved one due to the negligence of another? Parker Waichman LLP helps families receive justice and full monetary compensation for the loss of their loved one. Trust your case with our COVID-19 wrongful death lawsuit lawyers. For a free consultation, contact our law firm today by using our live chat or calling 1-800-YOUR-LAWYER (1-800-968-7529).
New York | Brooklyn | Queens | Long Island | New Jersey | Florida
Call us at: 1-800-YOURLAWYER (800-968-7529) | Schedule your free consultation