The Circuit Court for Montgomery County, Maryland dismissed with prejudice a three-count wrongful death claim brought by a former hospital nurse who claimed she contracted COVID-19 from a patient or co-worker at Sibley Memorial Hospital in March of 2020, and in turn infected her husband at their Maryland home, ultimately causing his death. After three rounds of amended complaints and two hearings, the court held that the well-pleaded allegations, assumed to be true and given all reasonable inferences, failed to plead a prima facie case of liability against Sibley for harm to the nurse's spouse.
The court agreed with Sibley that the claims could not proceed for three independent reasons. First, D.C.'s Wrongful Death Act, which was controlling, conditions recovery on injury in the District and provides no cause of action for a decedent injured in Maryland. Plaintiffs could not use the nurse's infection at Sibley in D.C. to establish D.C. as the place of injury, as only the decedent's infection was relevant. Second, under both D.C. and Maryland law, there is no tort duty that runs from an employer to its employee's spouse to prevent infection outside the workplace. Third, D.C. and Maryland have enacted immunity for hospitals and other healthcare providers from negligence actions related to the ongoing COVID-19 public-health emergency, and none of the statutory exceptions applied to these factual allegations.
Sibley Memorial Hospital is represented by Kelly Hughes Iverson, Marianne DePaulo Plant, Sean Gugerty, and Derek Stikeleather of Goodell, DeVries, Leech & Dann, LLP in Baltimore. For more information on this case, please contact Ms. Iverson at firstname.lastname@example.org or Ms. Plant at email@example.com.