Riverside Sued Over Employee's Death From COVID-19

The family of a Riverside County employee who died of COVID-19 complications last February is suing his employer for negligence that they believe led to his death.

"I honestly feel like my husband would be here today if somebody had listened to him," Michael Haywood’s wife, Elizabeth Haywood, told ABC 7.

Her 61-year-old husband had worked at the Riverside County Flood Control and Water Conservation District for 15 years. After the pandemic hit, he requested to work from home. He had good reason. Haywood was a two-time cancer survivor with both diabetes and hypertension — two of the leading risk factors for complications from COVID-19.

According to the lawsuit, Haywood’s employer refused to allow him to work remotely. They also ignored basic safety protocols like indoor masking and proper ventilation in the office.

“The protocols were there that they could have followed to save Michael Haywood's life and they deliberately chose not to," said Haywood family attorney James DeSimone.

Haywood eventually contracted the virus and died. Contact tracers reportedly determined he was infected at work. His wife, who contracted COVID-19 from him, is now experiencing symptoms of long Covid.

DeSimone believes there are other high-risk county employees who were denied a chance to work remotely and/or forced to work in unsafe conditions and suffered severe illness or even death as a result. He is encouraging them to come forward.

Riverside has declined to comment, citing pending litigation



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