Coronavirus Litigation: Preparing for Court - Capstone Brokerage

            Catastrophes and disasters often lead to a rush of lawsuits and legal action at the request that someone be held responsible for everything from inconveniences to serious illnesses and deaths.  The coronavirus pandemic will be no different in these circumstances.  According to the international law firm Hunton Andrews Kurth, over 2,000 federal and state lawsuits have already been filed and more are surely to follow over the next few months and likely years.  Examining the industries and areas most commonly impacted, especially in Nevada are key in understanding whether your business will be a part of these proceedings.

 Cancellations and Refunds

            It is very unlikely at this point that you have not experienced cancelled event due to coronavirus.  Whether it was a concert, a vacation, or even a wedding, many occasions such as these have been put on hold or cancelled altogether and people are looking for refunds for their purchases and deposits.  In particular, companies like Ticketmaster are being sued for their lackadaisical speed at returning money to their consumers over cancelled events.  Wedding related vendors offering their locations and services are being sued for not returning deposits to the unlucky couples who were attempting to get married during this time.  Even airlines and resorts are in the crosshairs of these lawsuits for not returning money to their customers amid larger reports of them hemorrhaging funds and attempting to receive more money from the federal government.  

Insurance Claims

            Thousands of businesses across the country are seeking some type of recompense for all their paid insurance premiums in the form of business interruption claims to their insurers.  However, many are being met with dismay as the type of claim they’re making is either not being covered in their policy or the coverage is not being addressed at all.  Restaurants, retail outlets, and others that shuttered their doors to the coronavirus shutdowns are trying to make sense of how they can trigger these claims to pay out the funds they’ve missed by being closed, but insurers are hard pressed to give in, as it would most certainly cause insolvency in much of the industry.  While there are talks of creating a federal backstop for insurance companies, much like the one created after 9/11 that would require the federal government to pay out claims for insurance companies after a certain threshold, these claims could be extensive far beyond what we saw on 9/11.

Workplace Safety and Working Conditions

            Unfortunately, there are employers who do not have the best intentions in mind for their employees.  And while they might have been privy to cutting corners at the expense of their workers before coronavirus, they should expect an influx of legal trouble if they continue in these circumstances.  More than ever, we are seeing class action lawsuits from employees who claim their employer has failed to take the appropriate measures to keep workplaces safe, and clean as well as failed to implement proper procedures for how to adequately keep places of business operable during this time.  This type of litigation will also extend to employees who contract coronavirus seemingly due to their employer’s lack of attention to these new safety standards and those that feel they have been wrongly retaliated against for speaking out against their employers for unsafe conditions.  It will inevitably be these lawsuits that showcase which employers and companies have their employees’ best interest at heart and which ones are simply concerned with the bottom line

Local Litigation

            Las Vegas and Nevada in general are no strangers to the changes and mandates revolving around covid-19 and are especially aware of what lawsuits could be on the horizon.  Some local businesses have opted to have their employees sign waivers dictating in the event that they contract coronavirus, they cannot seek damages from their employer.  However, this may be moot considering such a happening would result in what is likely a covered workers’ compensation claim.  And now with a facemask mandate effectively impacting anyone leaving the house, there may be trouble for businesses who will not serve customers not wearing a mask and businesses openly defying the governor’s new ruling.  The only thing now that would protect these businesses as a whole against these lawsuits is federal legislation. 


National Law Review

Olgetree Deakins

JD Supra