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Jennifer Rubin: He-who-must-not-be-named has a reckless endangerment problem


photo courtesy of and Erika Wittlieb

This Jennifer Rubin op-ed in today’s Washington Post is priceless: “[redacted] [and his] reckless endangerment problem” or, as the URL has it, “… beset by cognitive dissonance over coronavirus”:

CNN reports: “Attendees of President [redacted]’s upcoming rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, must agree not to sue the campaign if they contract coronavirus.” Attendees must RSVP to register for the event, and in [sic] that registration contains a boilerplate waiver that the attendees understand the “inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public place where people are present” (especially one where people refuse to wear masks!). They have to promise not to sue the Great Leader or his campaign if they acquire the virus. The takeaway here: [redacted] is happy to endanger his followers’ health, but not his own pocketbook. (It is far from clear that kind of waiver is legally sufficient when the conduct is “reckless” — an apt descriptor for [redacted]’s covid-denying rallies.)

There is a legal concept called “reckless endangerment” which holds that a person or company is liable both civilly and criminally if its conduct is “wrongful and reckless or wanton, and likely to produce death or grievous bodily harm to another person.” (Wikipedia)  Liability waivers, under state law, do not defeat civil actions for reckless endangerment.  For example, if you were driving and someone rear-ended you because they were driving too fast for conditions (usually “too fast” is defined as “they hit you in the first place”) then that is simple negligence.  However, if you are doing 30 in a 30 mph zone and the person who hits you is going 90 mph, that is gross negligence or recklessness– that person had complete disregard for the safety of others.  (This example is from the blog lowenthalabrams and applies in Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey.)

Now, if a company has a rally during the covid-19 pandemic and does not provide/require everyone to wear a mask, requires people to sit shoulder-to-shoulder, encourages attendance by over 10,000 people, and encourages everyone to shout and scream for two or more hours, does that not constitute “reckless endangerment” and does that not overcome a liability waiver if an attendee develops covid-19 and dies?  Just asking.

It doesn’t help that the president refused to hold his convention and coronation in North Carolina because the governor insisted on precautions like mask-wearing and social-distancing.  Apparently, he couldn’t stand the idea of people listening to his speech while wearing masks and sitting six feet apart.  Oh, the optics!

In other news, the president’s hotel and real estate business is tanking because of the pandemic.  It couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

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