What types of lawsuits were filed over COVID-19 in 2020?
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Despite predictions made in the early months of the coronavirus pandemic, lawsuits alleging that COVID-19 caused physical or economic harm were limited in 2020.
In its review of last year’s lawsuits, Law.com also reported that new case filings related to the coronavirus decreased in August and declined even more to 588 in November. According to Lex Machina’s COVID-19 Impact Analyzer, this was among the lowest levels since the pandemic began in March.
Lex Machina released its first Torts Litigation Report in November, identifying 173 tort cases related to COVID-19. Most were filed against cruise lines and nursing homes, and as Law.com reports, judges have dismissed many of them.
Mark Chalos, a partner at Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein in Nashville, Tennessee, told Law.com that “those cases just haven’t materialized by and large.”
He also said “we’re not seeing really any cases of any significance in more transient environments, like stores or restaurants or bars or other local businesses.”
Lawyers also expected a surge in employment class actions because of COVID-19, but according to Jackson Lewis’ COVID-19 Employment LitWatch, wage-and-hour cases comprised 78 of the 1,245 employment matters related to the coronavirus.
Further citing Jackson Lewis’ findings, Law.com reports that 472 lawsuits related to disability, leave and accommodation claims brought by employees who were sick or caring for someone with COVID-19.
Stephanie Adler-Paindiris, a principal in the Orlando, Florida, office of Jackson Lewis, told Law.com that she expects an increase in class actions related to systemic discrimination in 2021 as companies ask employees to return to the office and get the COVID-19 vaccine.
The largest group of lawsuits related to COVID-19 in 2020 were filed by restaurants, bars and businesses against their insurance firms after state and local governments ordered them to shut down, Law.com reports. Of the more than 6,900 lawsuits related to the pandemic in 2020, nearly 1,400 were over insurance, according to Hunton Andrews Kurth’s COVID-19 Complaint Tracker.
Chalos told Law.com that he expects more of these cases in 2021.
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