California employers scored a victory this week, as both the CA Supreme Court and US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit confirmed that employers owe no duty of care to prevent the spread of COVID to members of their employees’ households. The facts of the case, Kuciemba v. Victory Woodworks, Inc., were actually super interesting!
As a furniture and construction company with jobsites all over California, Victory was declared an essential business during the COVID lockdowns of 2020. While the lockdown was ongoing, several employees at one of its jobsites contracted COVID. Instead of requiring its non-infected employees at that site to quarantine, Victory reassigned them to other jobsites, including Mr. Kuciemba’s, in violation of the health orders in place at the time. Not surprisingly, one of the reassigned employees gave Mr. Kuciemba COVID, and in turn, Mr. Kuciemba gave it to his wife. While she was fortunate enough to survive her bout with COVID, she was hospitalized for a considerable time, during part of which she required a respirator to breathe. The Kuciembas sued Victory, claiming (among other things) that Victory caused Mrs. Kuciemba’s injuries by negligently failing to protect its employees from the spread of COVID.