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California imposing even more Covid liability on small businesses

Guest Commentary
by Georgina Marquez

I originally opened Chandelier Lounge Cuisine with a dream to bring my eclectic dishes and restaurant vision to East County. Never in my wildest dreams would I imagine that the state I opened my restaurant in would become such a hostile environment for small businesses to thrive. As if small businesses haven’t already suffered enough in the past two years, California’s Supreme Court is trying to expand take-home liability to the point where my restaurant could get pinned with the blame if one of my employees gets sick and infected with Covid-19.

Right now, the California Supreme Court is hearing a case known as Kuciemba v. Victory Woodworks that could expand take-home liability to include businesses where employees “catch” COVID and “bring it home” to their families. It might be the most ridiculous thing our state court has ever ruled on.

Beyond the impossibility of accurately tracking where a person caught COVID, it makes no sense for a state to apply a rule intended for asbestos exposure in the workplace to apply to an untraceable airborne super virus that experts agree nearly everyone on the planet has already caught and can literally be found everywhere.

I know lawmakers have a lot on their plate right now. Still, they need to step in and stop this reckless expansion of legal liability that only benefits disgruntled employees and profit-hungry trial attorneys looking for easy paydays.

It isn’t an exaggeration to say that allowing employees to sue for COVID-exposure will put every business in the state at risk of a lawsuit tsunami. That’s not what our economy needs as we approach a historic recession.

If lawmakers cower away from doing their job, the only alternative will be to fight fire with fire. If they take me to court over the matter, and I happen to catch COVID in the courtroom, I should be able to sue the state for its “reckless endangerment” of my family’s health.

Unlike disgruntled employees, the wrongly accused have no choice but to appear in an “unsafe environment” like a courtroom.

Marquez is the owner of Chandelier Lounge Cuisine in Jamul.

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