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‘American Horror Story’ Production Companies Sued by Family of Driver Who Died of COVID-19 After Working on Set

Three production companies have been sued by the family of a man who died from COVID-19 after driving a crew van on the set of “American Horror Story” in Massachusetts, where the plaintiffs say protocols were regularly flaunted.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in federal court by the family of Paul Woodward, says the Provincetown set failed to follow COVID-19 protocols during a February 2021 production. Woodward contracted the virus and died soon after working the set as a shuttle driver, according to the lawsuit, for whom Woodward’s wife is the main plaintiff.

Defendants include 20th Century Studios, Ryan Murphy Productions, and the Walt Disney Co. Messages sent to those companies Friday evening were not immediately returned.

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The filing says Woodward was not given a plexiglass divider for his van, and that several people from out-of-state were crammed into the passenger shuttle, afoul of production rules. It says “crew, actors, contractors and employees” on the Provincetown set flaunted a number of protocols to prevent spreading the virus, including social distancing and other company edicts that prevented gathering.

“He passed away on the morning of our 25th anniversary,” Patricia Woodward told NBC10 Boston. “So that day instead of going out to dinner or having champagne, I had to go to the funeral home and look for a casket for him.”

She said her husband initially tested negative for COVID-19 on set, but after becoming more and more ill, he was taken to the hospital. He died about five weeks later.

Hundreds of COVID-19-related workplace lawsuits have hit the courts since roughly 2020, though most are related to issues like paid leave, discrimination and compensation; some class-action suits have addressed workplace safety. It be immediately determined whether any plaintiff had successfully sued their employer after contracting COVID-19 while at work, however.

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