A state court in California has ruled that a local candymaker must face a lawsuit brought by an employee who claims she got COVID-19 while at work, then brought it home to her husband who caught the virus and died from it.
The suit is believed to be the first of its kind in the country, Reuters reported.
The California Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District, rejected an argument from See’s Candies in San Francisco that the worker, Matilde Ek, should file for workers’ compensation instead of seeking damages from a court because her husband’s death was “derivative” of a workplace injury she received.
Reuters said that an attorney for the candy company, which is owned by Berkshire Hathaway, Inc., did not have any immediate comment. Lawyers for Ek and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which filed a legal brief supporting the candy store, also could not be reached.
The worker and her three daughters filed suit against See’s last year arguing that Ek caught the virus because the candymaker did not do enough to ensure her safety while at work. Her husband, Arturo Ek, contracted the virus while she was recovering at home and eventually succumbed to it, she argued.
The company countered that Arturo Ek’s death was covered by workers’ compensation since it was “derivative” of Matilde Ek’s contracting of the virus at her workplace and thus, she could not sue.
A trial court agreed that the case should proceed, but on appeal, See’s argued that the lower court ruling was an “outlier” because other courts had already rejected similar COVID-19-related cases.
But judges with the court of appeals ruled that the husband’s death was not derived from his wife becoming ill but rather was caused directly by the virus, with Matilde Ek serving as a “conduit.” The court cited a federal appeals court ruling in a similar case related to a hepatitis infection.
The lawsuit comes as legal actions regarding the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine mandates continue to face pushback in federal courts, with some ruling it unconstitutional and others ruling the administration has the authority to issue them.
That said, the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to resolve the issue and is scheduled to hear oral arguments Jan. 7, with a ruling expected fairly quickly thereafter.
One of two challenges pertains to a mandate on businesses with 100 or more workers, while the other involves a mandate for healthcare workers at facilities that receive Medicare and Medicaid funds, reports noted.
“The reasoning across the cases is basically the same, which is that these statutes don’t give the president or the agency in question the authority to issue the mandates,” Gregory Magarian, a constitutional law professor at Washington University in St. Louis, told Fox News.
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