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Coronavirus Is Anticipated To Spark A Wave of Litigation

March 25, 2020

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<p style="text-align: justify;">Once the health and safety concerns brought about by the global health pandemic from Covid-19, aka the novel coronavirus, begin to ease up, it is expected that there will be “a wave of litigation” related to the pandemic.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Reporting already has shown that hospitals, restaurants, day care centers, nursing homes and hotels may face claims that they didn’t take adequate steps to protect people. Besides the third-party claims, shareholders can sue if companies fail to act effectively in response to the epidemic.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Some suits have already been filed: The pilots’ union at American Airlines Group Inc. sued the airline to stop it from serving China, while the city of Costa Mesa, California, sued the U.S. government to halt the transfer of quarantined cruise passengers to a state-owned facility there.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Litigators expect to see a surge in disputes over whether <em>force majeure</em> clauses, which frees a contract’s parties from their obligations in the event of an “act of God,” apply to the outbreak.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">The precautions that business implemented to face the outbreak, including working from home recommendations and limiting travel, will not come under a microscope during future litigation.  Questions regarding the propriety of the precautions, and whether it was put in place with enough time to stop the spread are only some of the issues that future litigation will tackle.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Governments will also be facing future litigation-and some has already started.  San Antonio has sued U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and other officials over the government’s quarantine of a cruise passenger in the area after she was cleared by two tests for the virus. A third test came back positive -- after her release.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Thanks to George Parpas on his contribution to this post.  Please email <a href="">Georgia Coats</a> with any questions.</p>


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