As reported by Law.com (subscription), the majority of lawsuits filed in 2020 related to the pandemic were brought by owners of restaurants, bars and other businesses against their insurers over denied business interruption claims after state and local governments forced the businesses to shut down. The report notes that nearly 20 percent of the 6,900 COVID-19 lawsuits filed this year were centered on insurance disputes.
Discussing potential outcomes for these kinds of suits, Lieff Cabraser Nashville office Managing Partner Mark Chalos, who represents businesses nationwide suing insurance firms, noted “I don’t think we can draw any real patterns. The lawsuits have gone in all directions at this point. It depends, in part, on the policy language and state law.” Chalos says he expects more cases like this in the coming year.
Law.com noted that 173 of the pandemic related suits filed this year were tort cases stemming from Coronavirus exposures, mostly against cruise lines and nursing homes. “Those cases just haven’t materialized, by and large,” said Chalos. Lawyers filed them in limited circumstances, where, as Chalos observes,“ you have a corporation or big company controlling the entire environment where people are,” such as prisons, nursing homes, meatpacking plants or cruise ships.
“But we’re not seeing really any cases of any significance in more transient environments, like stores or restaurants or bars or other local businesses,” Chalos added
Judges have thrown out many of the Covid exposure cases, such as those against Princess Cruise Lines, after finding it was difficult to prove the plaintiff got COVID-19 because of the company’s negligence.
Chalos and Lieff Cabraser have filed several lawsuits against Carnival Corp., owner of Princess Cruise Lines and Holland America, including a class action in which a federal judge denied class certification, but also did not dismiss the case. Chalos credited the various rulings in the cruise ship cases on the “evolving understanding of how this virus works.”
“For passengers who have alleged, for lack of a better word, contemporaneous symptoms, or developed them during or shortly after the time they were on Carnival cruise ship, the judges have denied the motions to dismiss in our cases,” he said.
About Mark Chalos
The managing partner of Lieff Cabraser’s Nashville office, Mark Chalos (@mpchalos) represents individuals who have suffered catastrophic personal injuries and families whose loved ones died due to the negligence or misconduct of others. Mark represents counties and cities across the U.S., as well as Native American tribes and health organizations, in the national opioids litigation. He is serving as part of the national case leadership in these cases, including preparing bellwether cases for trial.
Mr. Chalos has tried cases to juries and judges around the country. He serves in the leadership of numerous class actions and multidistrict litigations. He is an adjunct professor of law at Vanderbilt University Law School, is a frequent speaker at legal seminars nationwide on a variety of civil litigation topics, and is regularly cited by top-tier media outlets.