Discussion: Chapter 7: Torts

Business Law class:

We are living in unprecedented times. For the first time in human history, an epidemic crisis, called COVID-19, has swept the entire human population, whereby economic activity has abruptly stalled for economies across the world. Entire countries have closed their borders, and in the United States, most states have declared shelter-in-place orders for residents (some later than others).

I have provided below some scenarios based on real events that have happened during the onset of the epidemic. Apply what you have learned in our chapter on torts, as you read each event and analyze.

1. In New Jersey, a man was criminally charged for several offenses for allegedly coughing on a food store employee and telling her she had coronavirus.

7A COVID-19 New Jersey Attorney General Coughing on Person.pdfPreview the document

A news release from the Office of the Attorney General of New Jersey provided details about this incident, which occurred on Sunday, March 22, at Wegmans, a supermarket. There, the man had been asked by a store employee to maintain some social distance and step back, as the he was too close to the employee who was handling some food. Allegations provide that, instead, the man stepped forward, leaned in, purposely coughed, laughed, and told the employee that he was infected with coronavirus. Allegedly, he also later told two other store employees that they were lucky to have jobs. Assume the allegations are true. Does the first store employee have a viable tort claim against the man? If so, what cause(s) of action could the employee potentially argue? (Focus on tort law, not criminal law, which we will cover in the next chapter.)

2. In Pennsylvania, a woman played a “twisted prank” when she purposefully coughed on about $35,000 worth of food.

7B COVID-19 NBC Article Coughing on Produce.pdfPreview the document

Multiple media outlets covered the incident, which occurred on Wednesday, March 25, at Gerrity’s, a local grocery store. A co-owner of the chain provided, “A woman, who the police know to be a chronic problem in the community . . . proceeded to purposely cough on our fresh produce, and a small section of our bakery, meat case and grocery.” As store employees ordered the woman to leave the store, the woman continued to cough on produce and attempted to steal a 12-pack of beer. Assume the allegations are true. Do the store employees have a viable tort claim again the woman? If so, what cause(s) of action in tort could potentially be argued in court?

3. In California, an Amazon delivery driver was caught on camera spitting on his hand and wiping his saliva on the package he was dropping off.

7C COVID-19 Amazon Package Delivery Saliva.pdfPreview the document

7D Amazon Package Delivery Saliva Video Footage.mp4Play media comment.

This same video is also available on YouTube with closed captions:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AHcasMqfKaQ (Links to an external site.)

Based on this video, discuss whether Mr. Martinez, the package recipient, has any viable tort claims. Does Mr. Martinez have a viable tort claim against the Amazon delivery driver? If so, what cause(s) of action could Mr. Martinez potentially argue?

4. Assume that Mr. Martinez goes and files a negligence claim against Amazon.

(a) Mr. Martinez argues that Amazon owed him a duty. What would this duty be?

(b) Mr. Martinez argues that Amazon breached this duty. What would that breach be?

(c) Mr. Martinez argues that Amazon’s conduct caused his injury. How?

(d) Assume further that the Amazon delivery driver never had COVID-19 and that Mr. Martinez never contracted COVID-19. Although Mr. Martinez did not contract COVID-19, Mr. Martinez states that he suffered substantial emotional injuries due to stress and fear that he and his family had contracted COVID-19 after watching the security cam footage. Is this a legally cognizable claim? Why?

To receive credit, you must post an articulate response to each of the questions. I want to see that you made an effort to think critically and apply what you learned in answering the question presented. That is what is important to me. While you may write more if you wish, 1-3 sentences for any question should suffice.


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