[WASHINGTON, DC] – During a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee on “Examining Liability During the COVID-19 Pandemic,” U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Kevin Smartt, CEO of Kwik Chek Convenience Stores, discussed the role of the courts in protecting workers, consumers, and businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
During the exchange, Mr. Smartt agreed with Blumenthal that responsible business owners deserve a recourse against bad actors who put their employees and livelihoods at risk, and that the courts are responsible for determining who should be held responsible for those kinds of negligent actions.
Blumenthal posed a hypothetical to Smartt: “If somebody delivering goods to you failed to take any precautions with their workers doing the deliveries, so they were infected, and they then went into your businesses and since they weren’t wearing masks and they were infected because of the lack of proper precaution and they in effect caused sickness to your employees and they caused your business to have to shut down, wouldn’t you want some recourse?”
Blumenthal continued: “I would say as your lawyer, you know, you deserve a remedy. You deserve to seek some recourse, some damages from this guy who has been really irresponsible when you’re doing everything right. Does that sound like it makes sense to you if a lawyer advised you of that?
Smartt agreed: “Yes, it does.”
Blumenthal noted: “The good guys deserve some protection against the bad actors and the good guys may not be only the workers who are sickened and their families who may be infected, but they’re the business people who are adversely affected and harmed when others fail to do the right thing.”
Smartt responded: “And I do understand your point about the difficulty of setting what a bad actor is. I would assume in that situation if that person, that vendor, was truly negligent they would be a bad actor and they would not be immune from this situation.”
Blumenthal asked: “How you determine it would be up to a court probably, right?”
Smartt agreed: “I would think so.”
The full video of Blumenthal and Smartt’s exchange is available here.