Showing 15 results
Michael C. Duff | May 14, 2020
Listening in on Tuesday's Senate Hearing on Corporate Liability During the Coronavirus Pandemic, I was especially pleased to hear workers' compensation immunity discussed. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island specifically asked whether blanket corporate immunity would constitute subsidization of workers' compensation insurers. Witness Professor David Vladeck of Georgetown University Law Center responded that it very well could if workers' compensation were not carved out of the bill. I did not hear anyone contend during the hearing that workers' compensation could not be part of an immunity blanket, which is food for thought.
Michael C. Duff | May 6, 2020
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
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
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
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
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.