Professor Nina Kohn Writes “COVID-19 and the Problem of Multiple Sufficient Causes”

Professor Nina Kohn, a white woman with brown shoulder-length hair, wearing a black blazer over a tan sweater, with gold necklaces and earrings, smiles in front of a window. She is holding a dark blue book.

Professor Nina Kohn’s students often ask if an individual can be held liable for spreading COVID-19. Her Answer? “Well…maybe.” 

In an opinion article published in Bill of Health, the blog of the Petrie-Flom Center at Harvard Law School, Kohn explains how an oft-ignored legal doctrine may hold the key to establishing liability in COVID-19 cases. 

“The doctrine could enable plaintiffs with COVID-19-related claims to establish causation despite multiple sources of COVID-19 exposure,” Kohn says. “But if liability is not permitted to attach where one sufficient cause is ‘innocent’ — an approach seriously being considered for the Restatement Third of Torts — we should expect more COVID-19 claims to go off the rails despite clear evidence of wrongdoing.”