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The family of a Walmart employee in Illinois, who died from complications related to COVID-19, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the retailer Monday, accusing the company of negligence in its response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The deceased employee, Wando Evans, worked at a Walmart in Evergreen Park, Illinois. He died March 25, two days after he was sent home from work after he experienced symptoms. He was one of two employees at the Walmart to die as a result of the virus.
In a lawsuit filed in Cook County court, Evans’ family accused Walmart of negligence that contributed to his death, including a failure to adequately disinfect the store, adhere to social distancing guidelines and warn other employees that some workers were displaying symptoms. Store management was accused of failing to provide necessary supplies or training to workers.
The suit claims that Evans died “as a direct and proximate result” of Walmart’s alleged negligence. Evans’ family is seeking financial damages.
Walmart is one of several U.S. retailers that have continued to operate as essential businesses in recent weeks as cities around the country enact stay-at-home orders to slow the spread of coronavirus. More than 10,500 Americans had died from COVID-19 as of Monday, according to a Johns Hopkins University database.
“We are heartbroken at the passing of two associates at our Evergreen Park store and we are mourning along with their families,” Walmart said in a statement. “While neither associate had been at the store in more than a week, we took action to reinforce our cleaning and sanitizing measures, which include a deep-cleaning of key areas.”
Walmart said the Evergreen Park store subsequently passed an inspection by both local health department officials and a third-party safety and environmental compliance test. The retail chain noted that its stores around the country have installed sneeze guards at registers, social distancing decals for customers waiting in line and provided necessary safety equipment to workers.
“We take this issue seriously and will respond with the court once we have been served with the complaint,” the company added.
Walmart is one of several companies that have faced scrutiny in recent days over working conditions as they continued to operate during the outbreak.