Publix Supermarket Sued by Family Over Employee’s Death
By Space Coast Daily // March 22, 2021
When it comes to the present COVID-19 pandemic, many aspects of our world have changed.
Not only have many of us had to get used to working and schooling from home, but most of us are going out less in general.
Additionally, we all got introduced to the concept of essential workers and many of us learned, for the first time, that our jobs were indispensable. For instance, those who work in grocery stores received a high level of praise, however, they also learned that they would have to continue to go to work despite the pandemic and lockdown.
As such, many started to develop conflicting emotions about the notion of being an essential worker. On the one hand, it is a fact that some jobs are vital to operating a functional society.
On the other hand, it is also unfair that certain people are forced to continue to work while others are able to remain safely at home. No matter how hard a company tries to keep its employees safe, some will still get sick.
In the most extreme cases, COVID-19 can cause death. Therefore, companies are now getting sued by the family members of those who passed away as a result of catching COVID-19 while working.
Rightfully so, in many instances, those who pass away as a result of COVID-19, may not have caught the virus if they had been allowed to remain safe at home and social distance. The following is an overview of the details of one such case and how to go about avenging your loved one who died due to negligence.
The Publix Supermarket Lawsuit
As mentioned, COVID-19 complications can include death. This nightmarish scenario became the reality for one former Publix Supermarket employee. In 2020, Gerardo Gutierrez, 70, contracted COVID-19 from another employee who also worked in the deli.
While that is a damaging enough claim, the real issue lies in the fact that the family asserts the company should have or likely did know the employee was exhibiting signs of COVID-19. However, despite these symptoms, they failed to send the other employee home or to tell her not to come to work until the symptoms subsided.
Either way, on April 2 of last year, Gerardo Gutierrez was instructed to isolate himself at home. However, by April 7, he tested positive for COVID-19, and by April 28, he had passed away. While this is bad enough, it still gets worse.
Since this matter unfolded so early in the pandemic, during a time in which we didn’t have all the information we do now, the real issue is that the employee suffered from misinformation.
In particular, since the wearing of masks and gloves was considered questionable or even controversial during this time, Gerardo Gutierrez was prevented from protecting himself, despite being an essential worker.
In fact, there were several complaints asserting that the company forbid employees from wearing masks and gloves because they feared it would scare the customers and adversely affect business.
So, although masks were mandated in Publix Supermarkets by April, it was already too late for employees such as Gerardo Gutierrez, who contracted the virus in late March. Although his age and level of health may have played a factor in his demise, the fact of the matter is, he was prevented from properly protecting himself and may have survived if he had been allowed to stay home or wear the proper PPE.
They’re Not the Only Ones
Although it is by no means the norm, there has been an array of lawsuits filed as a result of COVID-19 deaths and complications. Since 2020, there have been quite a few people who died as a result of contracting COVID-19 while on the job.
While it cannot always be proven how and when the virus was contracted, many families feel they have enough evidence to prove the company was the most likely culprit. As such, these people are filing lawsuits to get compensated for the tragic and untimely losses of their loved ones.
Some examples of companies who are being sued over a COVID-19 death are Walmart, Safeway Inc., Tyson Foods, and more. These companies and organizations have been sued for gross negligence in that, according to their loved ones, they failed to protect their employees in some form or fashion.
Therefore, the families feel that their only course of action is to sue the companies. Although this certainly won’t bring them back or take the pain away, it does send the message that employers must do better to protect their employees.
For anyone who is concerned that they are not being properly protected at work, lawsuits such as these are necessary. Many believe that if companies are not held liable, other companies may become laxer in terms of the protection they provide.
Not only are the families of loved ones who have passed away suing these companies, but so are those who contracted the virus while on the job in general. This is because COVID-19 can cause a wide variety of long-term complications.
For example, many people who successfully recovered from COVID-19, maintain long-term lung and breathing issues. They can also suffer from any of the following issues:
■ Chest pain
■ Brain fog
■ Muscle pain
■ Heart palpitations
■ Acute kidney issues
■ Hair loss
■ And more
Not So Fast
While some employers may be at fault and may be ready and willing to pay what they owe, others are not going down without a fight. Several employers who were subjected to these lawsuits argued that they had done everything they possibly could have to prevent their employees from contracting COVID-19.
This includes screening employees, sending sick employees home, providing PPE, restructuring their facilities, etc. Moreover, they also point out that it is impossible to know for sure where someone contracted the virus. Although it may seem like someone contracted the virus as a result of being exposed to it at work, it is just as plausible that they came across someone else who had the virus.
Moreover, the government has also swooped in with an array of bills and parameters that are designed to prevent people from frivolously suing companies after contracting COVID-19. Despite the fact that companies that are negligent or egregious should still be held liable, the government is trying to protect companies who are doing the best they can to keep their customers safe. Also, there are attempts to cap the amount of money anyone can sue for in terms of punitive damages.
So, despite the fact that the government does acknowledge that some companies can and should be held liable, they also want to make sure that companies won’t just be going broke fighting and paying off these various lawsuits.
Need Help with a Negligence Case
If you have a loved one who died due to negligence as a result of contracting COVID-19, we’re here to help. Although many people seem to think these cases are open and shut, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
In fact, companies are now in the position to deny these negligence claims or pay as little as possible even when they lose the case. Therefore, by consulting with a qualified lawyer, you will be able to sway the odds in your favor.
A lawyer that is seasoned in dealing with negligence cases will be much better equipped to manage and help you win your case. This is because they are already well aware of the tactics and excuses that many companies use when dealing with negligence cases.
Moreover, a qualified lawyer can tell you if you have a good chance of winning or if you are likely wasting your time. This can be one of the best aspects of consulting with a lawyer who is used to dealing with negligence cases. Rather than wasting your time and money, they are able to tell you if they believe you will lose the case and why.
Alternatively, they can also tell you what can be done to give you a greater chance to win.
Either way, if you find yourself struggling to decide whether you should be suing a company for negligence, consulting with a qualified attorney is your best bet.
Instead of simply presenting the facts and leaving everything to chance, a qualified attorney can ensure that your case is presented properly to make sure you have the best chance of winning your care.
Losing a loved one is tragic enough. It is even worse when you lose them as a result of being placed in dangerous situations that could have been prevented. Don’t allow your loved one’s death to be in vain.
If you feel your loved one died as the result of the negligence of their employer, consulting with a qualified attorney is the next logical step. There is no need to go it alone.
A qualified attorney will make sure that your case is heard, your evidence is presented, and that a negligent company will pay for the pain they caused you and your loved ones.