KSL INVESTIGATES

Gephardt: Businesses Grapple With Conflicting State, CDC Health Guidelines

May 5, 2021, 10:15 PM | Updated: May 6, 2021, 12:14 am

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Over the past year, some business owners have told the KSL Investigators they are concerned about what happens if their business becomes a COVID-19 hotspot. Their concern wasn’t just health or even bad public relations. Some worried they could be sued and go broke.

 Lawsuits have been filed all over the country against businesses, specifically those who refused to enforce mask-wearing, social distancing, or other health protocols. 

Now with most Utah state health COVID-19 rules ending, should they be more or less worried? 

You Ask, KSL Investigates. 

“Of course, anybody can sue anybody for anything,” said Chris Dexter, a lawyer. “Whether they’ll prevail is another matter.”

Dexter said that as long as a business is following current health guidelines, they are pretty well insulated.

“If they are following local, state, and CDC guidelines, that does formulate kind of a safe harbor for that business,” he said.

 Following local, state and CDC guidelines is easier said than done because the guidelines don’t always match. For example, the CDC still recommends masking up indoors while Utah’s health department says it’s no longer a requirement. 

“There are some traps for the unwary because, as you know, there are quite a few gaps between the CDC and the 50 states,” Dexter said. 

The short answer, Dexter said, is that lawyers really don’t know yet if businesses will be held liable for COVID-19 outbreaks traced back to the business. 

“We don’t have legal cases that have gone through the courts at this point, that have determined everybody’s rights and responsibilities,” he said. “I would advise businesses to make sure they take into account what their business is, proximity of customers and clients, how they interact with the customer.” 

As KSL-TV has reported, proving where COVID-19 was contracted is very tough, especially with community spread. Because of that, Dexter for one has told potential clients they likely don’t have a winnable case.  

I’ve had probably 12 people come to my office for a free consultation and talk about exactly that: They know they [claim they know] they contracted COVID at ‘this place at this time,’” Dexter said. “And once we get into the granular level, none of those has been a good case to proceed with. 

A winnable case, Dexter explained, would be one you could demonstrate negligence on the part of the business, for example, if they forced people to come to work knowing they were sick with COVID-19. 

My opinion is it would have to be gross negligence, it would have to be very, demonstrably negligent that somebody acted in a certain way when they knew they should not have acted that way.” 

Currently, Congress is debating a bill that would completely indemnify businesses from any sort of lawsuits if people got sick from COVID-19.

KSL 5 TV Live

KSL Investigates

Dave Donegan showing Matt Gephardt the items that were broken in his move....

Matt Gephardt and Sloan Schrage, KSL TV

How liable is a moving company if your stuff gets damaged?

Dave Donegan’s home was just about to go into renovation, so he hired a moving and storage company to hold onto his household goods while work was underway.

2 days ago

A carbon monoxide detector. These standalone devices can help as an extra precaution, but Utah scho...

Annie Knox, Emiley Dewey and Daniella Rivera

Classroom carbon monoxide: Detectors are required, so why aren’t they in every school?

Utah took a big step a decade ago to keep schoolchildren safe from carbon monoxide. How well is the state living up to that promise.

5 days ago

FILE - The Amazon app is seen on a smartphone, Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023, in Marple Township, Pa. (AP ...

Matt Gephardt and Sloan Schrage, KSL TV

Get Gephardt helps solve Amazon misdelivery mystery for Manti man

Most of us are ordering more and more things online, and it's sometimes frustrating with things like an Amazon misdelivery mystery.

11 days ago

Scrolling social media, Joyce Lake spotted an ad for a doll. However, not only did the doll not sho...

Matt Gephardt

Imposters are using trust in law enforcement to scam Utahns

Scrolling social media, Joyce Lake spotted an ad for a doll.

12 days ago

a poster celebrating sexual assault awareness...

Daniella Rivera

‘Please report’: Salt Lake County leaders urge survivors of sexual assault to come forward

To kick off sexual assault awareness month, advocates and law enforcers are drawing attention to Utah’s low sexual assault reporting rate.

12 days ago

Anh Pham, 26, is facing several attempted murder charges for a series of hit-and-runs prosecutors s...

Daniella Rivera

Prosecutors say a man targeted women in hit-and-runs, so why isn’t he facing hate crime charges?

A Utah man is facing several charges of attempted murder after investigators linked him to a series of hit-and-run crashes injuring female pedestrians. The case raises questions about whether these attacks should be treated as hate crimes.

15 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why Printer Security Should Be Top of Mind for Your Business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Gephardt: Businesses Grapple With Conflicting State, CDC Health Guidelines