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Please, diners (sick or not), don’t sue restaurants over coronavirus

(AP Photo/John Bazemore)

I’m very excited that struggling families who own restaurants — and their employees — can get back to hosting customers in their dining rooms. It just might save their bacon. 

But, honestly, I am even more excited for me. More surviving restaurants means more eating options — and I like food WAY. TOO. MUCH.  

Uh, I just discovered food from El Salvador and I selfishly don’t want the super-friendly, family-owned, order-at-the-counter place in my neighborhood where they make killer pupusas to close down. 

But think of how disappointing it would be for them (and in the most awful roller-coastery kinda way) to think, “It looks, finally, like our family is going to stay afloat!” And then have your hopes dashed upon the rocks of a lawsuit. 

You know there are at least a few lawyers hurting for business themselves who will go trolling for clients who got sick with COVID-19 after eating at a restaurant. I would bet most attorneys wouldn’t take the case but some wouldn’t be able to resist the billable hours and possible payday a successful suit would bring whether their client got sick at the restaurant or not. 

KTAR legal expert Monica Lindstrom says good luck proving that you contracted coronavirus from the restaurant. And there are other hurdles to a winning in court like the “assumption of risk” a diner accepts by going out to eat during a pandemic. And even if you can prove causation you’ll still need to prove how you were damaged. 

Still, Monica says restaurants should protect themselves from lawsuits by protecting their customers from COVID by following Arizona’s and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendations. 

Which brings me to a couple restaurants I just patronized which may be putting their customers at greater risk of getting sick — which puts them at greater risk of getting sued, right? 

At two different fast food drive-thrus this past weekend, I was greeted at the window with a plastic bin to drop my debit card in. The masked worker then used his gloved hand to pull my card out of it, ran the card and then dropped it back in the bin for me to dig it out. 

I didn’t see him the whole time so while he might’ve had enough time to change out his gloves (which I don’t think he did), he certainly didn’t have time to sanitize the bin between me and the car in front of me. 

And he handed me the bag of food wearing the same gloves he (likely) used to dig in the bin. 

So, instead of just the drive-thru guy and me handling my card, he and I (and my card) all touched the inside of a plastic bin that several other customers also dug their cards out of?! 


Now, I’m not really worried about getting sick (and I sanitized my hands right away) but if I do get sick, I’m not going to sue for three reasons: 1) It sounds like it’s tough to prove; 2) I’m not a litigious person; and 3) I would probably face a countersuit for hopping on social media and calling their managers #COVIDIOTS. 

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