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Showing 14 results

Michael C. Duff | May 6, 2020

Novel Smithfield Foods Public Nuisance Suit Dismissed Without Prejudice

In what for me is an ominous development, the Smithfield Foods public nuisance case, about which I blogged earlier, has been summarily denied by a Missouri federal district court and the case has been dismissed. The decision took all of twelve days. In a nutshell, the court accepted the primary jurisdiction arguments that I have previously discussed but will not repeat here. Sometimes cases are illustrative of clear legal principles. This, for me, is not one of those cases. Sometimes cases set "mood points." And I fear that is the situation here. I have great concern about the prospect for an unreflective, anti-liability fervor enveloping the Great Reopening, though this decision did not directly reach questions of liability that could impact state workers' compensation or tort law.

Michael C. Duff | May 5, 2020

The Public Nuisance Litigation in a Smithfield Foods Meatpacking Case: Workers’ Compensation Implications?

As Senate Republicans and corporations continue to lobby for the broadest possible "liability shields" in connection with the Great Reopening, a novel lawsuit framed in terms of public nuisance theory is being litigated in a Missouri federal court.

Michael C. Duff | April 30, 2020

President Orders Continued Meat Production; And Then There’s the 13th Amendment

The president's invocation of the Defense Production Act to order meat producers back to work apparently comes with broad liability immunity for producers compelled to comply with its terms. Michael Duff writes, "So 'anti-liability' is apparently coming by executive order and by Mitch McConnell edict. I think it remains to be seen how far into state law the immunization will purport to intrude. But if this goes much further the constitutional dimensions of tort law may be tested a lot more starkly than in prior periods of 'tort reform.'"

Michael C. Duff | April 21, 2020

COVID-19: Legal Issues When Workers’ Compensation Doesn’t Apply

With COVID-19 cases contracted at work on the rise, labor and employment attorneys, businesses, advocates, and workers are all wondering if their state’s workers’ compensation law will apply, and alternatively, if an ill worker could file a lawsuit against their employer. The answers to these questions are not simple, as workers’ compensation laws vary by state, and when it comes to occupational diseases, the applicability of workers’ comp is often even more complicated. In a recent post on Workers’ Compensation Law Prof Blog, CPR Member Scholar Michael Duff discusses the so-called workers’ compensation “grand bargain,” under which workers receive no-fault benefits for work-related injuries and illnesses in exchange for giving up their right to file a lawsuit against their employer. In his post, Duff explores the circumstances in which a worker who has contracted COVID-19 at work may still have the right to file a lawsuit (getting around the “exclusivity bar”), as illustrated by a recently filed wrongful death case in Illinois, Evans v. Walmart. In this case, plaintiffs argue that two Walmart employees, Wando Evans and Phillip Thomas, passed away due to complications from COVID-19 contracted while working for the big box retailer.

Michael C. Duff | April 1, 2020

The Coronavirus and Shortcomings of Workers’ Comp

Front-line health care workers and other first responders are in the trenches of the battle against the COVID-19 virus. The news is replete with tragic stories of these workers fearing death, making wills, and frantically utilizing extreme social distancing techniques to keep their own families sheltered from exposure to the virus. Should they contract the virus and become unable to work, they may seek workers' compensation coverage, which is the primary benefit system for workers suffering work-related injuries or diseases.