Intentional Tort and Coronavirus/Covid19

Last Updated 3.31.2020 @ 12:40 pm

DISCLAIMER: The following information is a guide, not intended to be used as legal advice, and no attorney client relationship is established by any communication through this website.  Because every situation and every workplace is different we ask that you contact us with specific questions. 


Q: Will Employers Who Remain Open Have Intentional Tort Liability?

A: R.C. 2745.01 Liability of Employer for Intentional Tort

  • Intentional tort in Ohio allows claimants to file personal injury lawsuits against their employer to seek compensation and punitive damages in addition to the WC claim, under a theory of intentional tort, essentially meaning that an employer had actual knowledge or was substantially certain an injury would result to a claimant from an employer’s actions.
  • There must be evidence of an actual, deliberate intent to injure the claimant.
  • The statute provides a “rebuttable presumption” of the required intent to injure if the employer deliberately removes a safety guard or deliberately misrepresents a toxic or hazardous substance.
    • The question will ultimately be whether an employer’s actions or more likely, inaction, in connection with the coronavirus rises to the level of deliberate intent or substantial certainty. This will require an individual assessment of each employer’s action/inaction in response to the coronavirus.
    • Will claimants argue a rebuttable presumption under a deliberate misrepresentation of a toxic or hazardous substance?
  • The safe course is to follow all recommendations from the federal government, state of Ohio and county health departments and document the actions taken.


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