A wrongful death claim has been filed against Walmart by the surviving family members of an Illinois man who worked for the retail giant at a location in Evergreen Park. According to the claim, the decedent’s complaints of suffering from COVID-19 symptoms were not taken seriously by his employer, worsening his symptoms and contributing to his death on March 25th, 2020. The claim also alleges that Walmart did not take reasonable precautions to protect store employees from coronavirus exposure as they completed their work as “essential” workers.
The decedent apparently told his manager on or around March 11th that he was experiencing a persistent fever, cough, and breathing difficulties, which are all symptoms of COVID-19. The man’s complaints were allegedly set aside by his supervisors, who instructed him to continue working his overnight shifts, during which he restocked the store with products. He continued to report for work up until March 23rd when he was sent home due to the severity of his symptoms, only two days before he was found deceased in his own home.
Walmart Accused of Endangering All Employees
The family of the deceased worker only decided to seek legal compensation for his passing after other workers from the Evergreen Park Walmart heard of the man’s passing. Previously, they had not been told by management that he was showing COVID-19 symptoms. They urged the surviving family members to file a claim to encourage Walmart to do more to protect its workers.
According to the workers’ statements and the wrongful death claim, Walmart was not enforcing physical distancing guidelines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO). The employer also allegedly did not give all employees gloves, masks, and antibacterial cleaners, despite the CDC marking Walmart as a high-volume business that needs to take above-average precautions to limit viral exposure.
Only four days after the first worker passed away from coronavirus complications, a second worker from the same Evergreen Park Walmart passed away under similar circumstances. Two days after the second death, Walmart announced it would increase its safety precautions across all stores. But is the effort too little and too late?
Walmart Coronavirus Lawsuit Could Impact Millions
The wrongful death lawsuit filed against Walmart for the alleged mishandling coronavirus protections for its employees could be significant enough to create a new legal precedent for any future similar claims filed against it and other employers. If the case goes to court and the judge rules against Walmart as the defendant, then future litigation could point to it as established case law. With this in mind, Walmart will likely try to end the claim behind closed doors through a confidential settlement. This outcome would still be beneficial for the employees of major retailers everywhere, as it would show that corporations need to acknowledge their responsibilities to protect employees from the coronavirus or prepare for an influx of injury claims.
You can learn more about this developing story by clicking here and viewing a full article from ABC News. Our team of attorneys from Pratt Clay, LLC in Atlanta are watching this situation as it develops. Be sure to visit our blog frequently for any critical updates to this story.