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A See’s Candies worker is suing the candy maker in Los Angeles Superior Court claiming she contracted COVID-19 on the job due to negligent safety standards, thus infecting her husband who later died due to complications from the virus. She is suing for premises liability.
The complaint was reportedly filed by Matilde Ek and her three daughters, noting she contracted COVID-19 while working at the company’s Carson, CA, plant on the packing line in early March 2020. After contracting the virus, Ek, who is 70-years-old, stayed home from work. This ultimately resulted in her 72-year-old husband and a daughter also catching the virus, according to the lawsuit. Her husband, Arturo Ek, unfortunately soon died the following month.
Matilde reportedly said: “Defendants failed to operate and conduct their business as would and should be expected to protect their employees, including plaintiff, from the known high risk of this viral infection by failing to put known, appropriate and necessary safety mitigation measures in place.”
Per the lawsuit, Matilde worked on the packing line in close proximity to other employees and without proper safety measures taken when the COVID-19 outbreak began around the U.S. in early March. She alleges that she worked without proper social distancing on the packing line between March 1 and March 19, while using the restrooms and break rooms in close proximity to other workers. According to her account, some workers were coughing, sneezing, and showing other signs of COVID-19 infections.
Matilde also stated that plant employees had complained directly to supervisors at the time, as did the employees’ union, about the safety protocols at the plant but that the company failed to enact proper procedures that would have safeguarded workers’ health regardless.
“Defendants knew and should have known that their failure to take appropriate and necessary safety mitigation measures would increase the known and foreseeable risk that their workers, like plaintiff, would become infected in the course and scope of their work for defendants, and carry said viral infection home infecting one or more of their family members,” she said.
As previously mentioned, the lawsuit is claiming premises liability, as well as seeking unspecified damages and includes causes of action for general negligence and dangerous condition of public property.
All property owners have a duty of care to reasonably maintain their premises. Determining fault in a premises liability case in California is complex given that it requires the injured individual to prove that they were harmed because of the property owner/manager’s negligence and that said negligence was the primary factor that caused the plaintiff’s injuries.
Matilde’s complaint is unfortunately not the first of its kind, but merely the latest in a series of lawsuits filed against different food companies around the country over allegedly lax COVID-19 safety protocols. Last month, a California state judge issued a temporary restraining order against Foster Farms, requiring the poultry processor to comply with COVID-19 safety protocols issued by county health regulators after a previous coronavirus outbreak at a company facility in Central California sickened more than 400 workers and caused nine deaths.