A federal judge has launched a first-of-its-kind lawsuit aimed at holding an employer liable for a worker’s spouse with Covid-19.
U.S. District Judge Maxine M. Chesney in San Francisco on Monday dismissed the lawsuit filed by Corby Kuciemba and her husband Robert Kuciemba. The judge gave the couple the opportunity to revise their complaint in an attempt to resuscitate the case.
The judge ruled that most of the claims in the lawsuit are time-barred because of the workers’ compensation “exclusive remedy” provisions, under which the husband is barred from directly suing his business.
Martin Zurada, a lawyer for the Kuciemba, did not immediately comment.
Chesney also ruled that the couple’s lawsuit did not meet the required threshold, or standing to hold Robert Kuciemba’s employer, Victory Woodworks Inc., responsible for creating a public nuisance.
The couple alleged that Victory Woodworks violated local and federal virus safety guidelines by moving workers from site to site in the San Francisco area. The inability of society to take basic precautions caused Robert Kuciemba to contract the virus and unwittingly bring it home and infect his wife, according to the complaint, that husband and wife needed long hospital stays and suffered from after-effects.
Chesney’s decision upheld the precedent banning claims “against an employer by any foreigner allegedly injured by an employee’s workplace injury,” William Bogdan, a lawyer for Victory Woodworks, said in an email. Regardless of the trial reviews that the Kuciemba might advance, “the outcome should remain the same,” he said.
The case is Kuciemba v. Victory Woodworks, 20-cv-09355, US District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).
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