Protecting Your Business From Liability Claims Stemming From COVID-19 Exposure

Grocery shopper

Do businesses have a heightened duty of care to their customers?

June 1, 2020
Andrew Hamelsky, Jenifer Scarcella & Joshua Tumen - White and Williams

Businesses of every nature – including grocery stores, banks, daycares, gyms and restaurants – may face increasing liability claims from customers and third parties claiming to have been exposed to the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, while at their location. The novel virus raises issues as to whether businesses have a heightened duty of care to their customers, and what type of exposure businesses face if a customer claims to have been exposed to COVID-19 while at their premises.

Recently, a lawsuit was filed against Princess Cruise lines for gross negligence in allowing passengers to be exposed to COVID-19 on a cruise ship. The lawsuit alleges that the cruise ship was allowed to go out to sea knowing that it was infected from two previous passengers who came down with symptoms of COVID-19. It further claims that the passengers were not warned of the potential exposure either before or after they boarded the ship.

In other news reports around the country, business owners have reported taking extraordinary precautions to prevent customers’ risk of contracting COVID-19. For example, one grocery store recently reported that it discarded $35,000 worth of food after a customer coughed on fresh produce.

Reprinted courtesy of White and Williams LLP attorneys Andrew Hamelsky, Jenifer Scarcella and Joshua Tumen
Mr. Hamelsky may be contacted at
Ms. Scarcella may be contacted at
Mr. Tumen may be contacted at


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