Current lawsuits against pandemic response could force responsible behavior

While civil litigation can be — and is — abused, in this case it's a deterrent to reckless behavior.

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Editorials

October 18, 2021 - 9:30 AM

In Wisconsin, families are suing two school districts for dropping their mask mandates, claiming it resulted in their children’s coronavirus infections. In Illinois, a lawsuit alleges a meat processing employee brought the virus home from work and infected his wife, killing her. Such actions are still relatively rare, but in a nation that sues over all kinds of disputes far less serious than the reckless transmission of a deadly disease, civil litigation might — and perhaps should — become more common.

It’s not often this newspaper argues that more litigation is just what America needs. But private and public plaintiffs all over the country, including Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, are suing those who follow the science and attempt to combat the coronavirus. It’s an upside-down ethos that screams out for pushback in the nation’s courts.

While civil litigation can be —and is — abused, in concept it’s a valuable tool for both legitimate compensation for injured plaintiffs and, more crucially for society, a deterrent to reckless behavior.

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