What legal liability does a chapter/house corporation have if a member is diagnosed with the COVID-19 virus and is allowed to live in the chapter house under a quarantine or isolation room?
Legal liability exists when:
- The wrongdoer (chapter house or corporation) is found guilty of “negligent conduct” meaning they breached a duty owed to the injured party
- The injured party suffers actual damages such as getting ill with the virus
- The wrongdoer’s negligent conduct is the proximate cause of the injury or damage
What actions during the COVID-19 crisis could possibly lead to the insured (chapter and/or house corporation) being found legally liable for an injury from the virus? Before we lay out some examples it is always important to remember that society and the courts generally only require that a person or entity act “as a reasonable and prudent person” and using their best, and most informed, judgement act accordingly.
Examples might be:
- Allowing an employee who is known to be infected with the virus to continue working
- Forcing an employee to continue to work in a chapter house where there are resident members who are ill and isolated at the house
- Failure to adhere to required health and prevention guidelines
- No efforts to educate your employees and/or members on the health and prevention guidelines
- Remaining open following an order by a civil authority to close
- Indiscriminate application of rules and guidelines for the members of how to safely live in the chapter house to not expose your sisters to the virus
There are numerous other scenarios; however, the major point is that there will be advice from experts like the CDC on how to follow health and prevention guidelines to keep your chapter house safe from spreading COVID-19. The key is to follow the health and prevention guidelines, educate your employees and members on these guidelines, and put measures in place to ensure their compliance of these guidelines. Should someone get injured or ill and allege they did so on your property, you will be able to confidently defend your position by having followed these best practices.