Lawsuit Seeks to Halt Some Civil Trials in LA After Three Courthouse Employees Die from COVID-19

A group of legal nonprofits is suing to end some in-person court appearances in Los Angeles County amid health and safety concerns.

The suit was filed by Public Counsel, the Inner City Law Center, the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, and Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County. Poor ventilation, crowding, and lax safety measures at the county’s court facilities create conditions for a possible “superspreader” event, the plaintiffs claim. They want to see a halt to civil trials for traffic and eviction violations.

The complaint follows the deaths of three courthouse employees from COVID-19 in January. Spokeswoman Ann Donlan told the Los Angeles Times that at least 445 court employees and judges have tested positive since March. That gives the system an infection rate that’s around 1.4% lower than the county as a whole.

Los Angeles isn’t the only county where courthouse safety conditions have become an issue. Court employees in Monterey have been circulating a petition calling for added safety measures after multiple outbreaks at court facilities there.