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McDonald’s Virus Safety Order Extended in ‘Dog Diaper’ Case

July 10, 2020, 7:34 PM

A McDonald’s restaurant in Oakland, Calif., remains under a court order for its Covid-19 safety protocols even as it plans to reopen on Sunday.

Alameda County Judge Richard Seabold on Thursday kept in place a temporary restraining order blocking the restaurant from reopening unless the County Department of Environmental Health approved its plan. County inspectors granted approval July 6 pending employee training, which was completed two days later, according to court papers.

Seabold extended the temporary restraining order until Aug. 13, when he’ll weigh a preliminary injunction to impose 11 separate protective measures, including supplying masks and gloves, conducting temperature checks and contact tracing, and not discouraging or preventing workers from taking sick leave.

The continued judicial oversight of the McDonald’s location is another boost for the legal tactic of using the long-standing public nuisance doctrine to improve occupational safety during the Covid-19 pandemic. The workers alleged in their lawsuit that the Oakland restaurant’s safety failures included offering masks made of coffee filters or dog diapers.

Elsewhere, a judge ordered four Chicago McDonald’s restaurants to adopt safety measures in a public nuisance case in Illinois state court. A federal judge tossed similar claims against a Smithfield Foods Inc. meatpacking plant, while another case is pending against Amazon in New York federal court.

The workers are happy that Seaborn kept the order in place, said the workers’ lawyer, B.J. Chisholm of Altshuler Berzon.

The Oakland McDonald’s franchisee and McDonald’s Corp., which isn’t a defendant in the case, didn’t respond to a request for comment.

The case is Hernandez v. VES McDonald’s, Cal. Super. Ct., No. RG20064825, 7/9/20.

To contact the reporter on this story: Robert Iafolla in Washington at riafolla@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jay-Anne B. Casuga at jcasuga@bloomberglaw.com; Martha Mueller Neff at mmuellerneff@bloomberglaw.com

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