As millions of Americans shelter-in-place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, lawsuits concerning COVID-19 losses have surged in the United States and will probably flood case dockets for years to come. The unprecedented nature of the current crisis and its pervasive effects on all sectors of the economy are evinced by the variety of COVID-19-related lawsuits and the uncertainty in how legal standards will be applied. For example, COVID-19 lawsuits have been filed against cruise lines, nursing homes, insurers, airlines, and government agencies on claims based on negligence, workers compensation, breach of contract and securities fraud. So, who is at risk of litigation?
Generally, organizations that have exposed customers or employees to the COVID-19 may be liable under tort negligence or workers compensation claims. For example, in one of several suits filed against Princess Cruise Lines, the plaintiff passengers alleged that Princess Cruise Lines was grossly negligent for operating their ships after being informed that a previous passenger was infected with the COVID-19. Moreover, in a suit filed in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims (Civil Action No. 20-359 C), plaintiff employees of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Prisons, and Veterans Affairs allege that they were denied hazard pay for exposure to dangerous microorganisms as defined under Federal Regulations.
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