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Family Of Riverside County Employee Files Wrongful Death Lawsuit Over His Exposure To COVID-19 At Work

RIVERSIDE (CBSLA) — The family of a Riverside County employee who died after contracting COVID-19 has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the county.

michael haywood
(credit: V. James DeSimone Law)

Michael Haywood worked for Riverside County's flood control district. He was diabetic, had a respiratory condition, and was a two-time cancer survivor, and his widow claims his bosses knew he was at high risk.

According to the lawsuit filed by Elizabeth Haywood, her late husband's supervisors denied his repeated requests to work from home, then failed to require his coworkers wear masks as a safety precaution.

Michael Haywood was exposed to COVID at work in December of 2020. Both he and his wife tested positive, but while she recovered, he died on Feb. 2, 2021.

"When Mike died, I didn't just lose my life partner, my best friend," Elizabeth Haywood said tearfully. "I lost my playmate, my protector, my travel companion, my lover, my mechanic, my handyman, and so much more."

The Haywood family is also suing the county for negligence resulting in injury to Haywood, who already had an autoimmune disease before being exposed to COVID. The lawsuit claims the infection left her with long-term physical conditions, including cognitive and breathing problems, and psychological consequences including panic attacks and vertigo.

In a statement, a Riverside County said, "We are very saddened by the death of Mr. Haywood…The County takes necessary coronavirus precautions to prevent and stop the spread of COVID-19…for the safety and wellbeing of county employees.


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