A federal district court on Monday refused to dismiss a lawsuit filed by McDonald & # 39 ;s Corp. and two of its franchisees due to the insurer's refusal to defend them in COVID-19 disputes filed by fast food chain employees, three of whom have had symptoms of the virus.
Five workers at four McDonald & # 39 ;s restaurants and their family members and cohabitants had filed a lawsuit against McDonald & # 39; s and the franchisees in October, accusing general disturbances and negligence of the fast food operators' decision to remain open during a pandemic, while "does not meet basic health and safety standards in their restaurants", according to disputes in McDonald & # 39 ;s Corp et al. v. Austin Mutual Insurance Co. filed in the U.S. District Court in Chicago.
Employee Objectives A mandatory injunction requiring McDonald & # 39 ;s and franchisees, among others, to provide their employees with adequate personal protection. Equipment; exclude the reuse of face masks; supplies for deliveries; require customers to wear face masks; monitor employee COVID-1
Three of the complainants in the case have either contracted the virus or become ill and experienced symptoms consistent with it, according to Monday's decision.
Policy issued by Austin Mutual, a unit in Madison, Wisconsin-based American Family Mutual Insurance Co., provides coverage for "injuries due to" bodily injury, "the decision said.
"Putting it all together", if the employees prevail and gain entry to the injunction, it will be due to their contraction of the virus, "an undeniable bodily injury", the decision states.
"Alternatively, another possible route of coverage is that exposure to the virus itself is a" bodily injury "that (McDonalds and its franchisees) would be forced to spend" damages "to remedy," the decision said.  "Either argument may not wow everyone with its brilliance, and Austin Mutual may even have the better interpretation. But this is not a dispute over the better interpretation: it is a dispute over a potential and legally defensible interpretation, "the decision said.
No one" can credibly deny that the plaintiff's complaint raises a potential argument for coverage "decision said denying Austin Mutual's proposal to dismiss the case.
An insurance lawyer had no comment, while lawsuits did not respond to a request for comment.
Last week, a Los Angeles McDonald & # 39 ;s franchisee was fined more than 125 $ 1,000 after being accused of taking revenge on employees who reported COVID-19 workplace safety violations.