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Press Center

Press Release

There Is No Wave of COVID-19 Litigation Threatening to Stall an Economic Recovery

Granting corporations legal immunity will put American workers, consumers at risk.

July 14,2020

Washington, DC – An analysis of legal filings shows there has been no wave of COVID-19 litigation, undermining demands from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that corporations get legal immunity while more than 130,000 Americans have died from the pandemic.

A database maintained by the Hunton Andrews Kurth law firm has been tracking COVID-19 litigation across the U.S. since the epidemic began. Sen. McConnell’s proposal as described in news reports would gut the rights of injured workers and consumers, yet the database shows that they are not filing an influx of COVID-19 litigation.

For example:

  • The number of personal injury cases nationally (classified as "Misc. Tort," "Health/Medical," and "Conditions of employment" under the "Labor & Employment" section) is 161 out of a total of 3,419 complaints (Full List below for a breakdown).
  • The categories with the highest numbers of cases (by far) involve insurance (for example, small businesses not getting the business interruption coverage they had been paying for), civil rights (people challenging stay-at-home orders, among other things), and prisoner petitions. These three types of cases alone make up almost 59% of the total number of cases in the database.
  • The database contains many cases that only tangentially relate to the pandemic. For example, one case in the database was filed by an individual trying to stop 5G equipment from being installed in their neighborhood; COVID-19 is only referenced because the residents are having trouble getting guidance from government agencies. In another case, the Trump campaign brought a lawsuit against a local NBC affiliate in Wisconsin, saying they aired an ad that misrepresented him calling COVID-19 a hoax.

Corporations have long used crises to demand immunity. According to David C. Vladeck, a professor at the Georgetown University Law Center, “Immunity signals to workers and consumers that they go back to work or they go to the grocery store at their peril.” These latest numbers below show that even now, four months into the pandemic, no wave is materializing.

Summary of the Hunton Andrews Kurth Database as of July 13, 2020

3,419 Complaints

Complaints regarding exposure, potential exposure, or fear of exposure

Medical malpractice cases                                   6*

Wrongful death                                                           36

               Nursing homes – 31**   

Cruise ships – 4

Other – 1

Personal injury                                                             11

               Cruise ships – 10

               Charter plane – 1

Labor & Employment                                                 285***

Potential exposure to Covid-19 - 67

Unlawful termination – 143

* The six malpractice cases in detail:

  • Bladder cancer misdiagnosis – the plaintiff is asking for the case to begin despite COVID-19 restrictions because he is “terminally ill.”
  • Nursing home wrongful death class action.
  • Petition to stop an 84-year-old asthmatic COVID-19 patient from being discharged to a facility with sub-standard care.
  • 19-year-old was misdiagnosed and died from COVID-19.
  • Death from exposure at a nursing home.
  • Death from exposure at a nursing home.
 ** As of July 7, the virus has infected 296,000 people at 14,000 nursing home facilities, and killed at least 55,000 residents and workers.[i]

*** Another litigation tracker from Fisher Phillips has recorded 300 employment cases. For context, the number of unemployed individuals in the U.S. has grown by 12 million since February.[ii] 

 

May 28

July 13

Banking/Financial Services

18

66

Other

13

40

SBA loan processing

5

18

Stimulus check garnishment

 

8

Challenges against Foreign Sovereigns

8

11

Cases against China

7

8

Other

1

3

Civil Rights

250

592

Business closure/Stay-at-home order challenges

81

235

Essential vs. non-essential designations

3

37

FOIA disputes

12

26

Government taking/commandeering property

3

5

Non-essential designations

17

 

Other

34

95

Other public safety measures

54

99

Schools closing

1

1

Voting

43

88

Withholding of funds

2

5

Consumer Cases

83

233

False advertising/UDTPA claims

17

46

Other

8

15

Price gouging

11

20

Recurring membership fee during shutdown

18

28

Travel and entertainment

29

 

Personal injury

 

11

Non-education-related cancelations

 

109

Products liability

 

1

Wrongful death from public COVID-19 exposure

 

4

Contract Disputes

51

178

Cancel or suspend contract for force majeure

8

31

Construction cases

1

6

Event cancellation (non-class, non-consumer)

7

12

Failure to close deal

8

13

Failure to refund (non-class, non-consumer)

16

65

Other

8

40

Termination of supply

4

12

Education

102

187

Other

6

28

Request for refund

96

159

General Court Admin Orders

3

10

Prisoner petitions

412

575

Health/Medical

25

62

Malpractice

2

6

Other

12

23

Right to visit nursing home patient

1

2

Wrongful death

10

31

Insurance

374

838

Event cancellation

2

 

GL

2

 

Other

370

 

Intellectual Property

7

19

Copyright

1

2

Trademark

6

15

Patent

 

2

Labor & Employment

73

285

Condition of employment (COVID-19 exposure)

30

67

Disability disputes

1

3

Discrimination

1

9

Leaves of absence

9

15

Other

4

13

Under/Over/Non-payment issues

11

36

Unlawful termination

17

143

Retaliation

 

2

Misc. Tort

 

32

Libel/Slander

 

10

Other

 

21

Wrongful death (other than employment, consumer,

Healthcare)

 

1

None

7

9

Not Coded

788

81

Real Property

63

215

Damage to property

2

2

Landlord/Tenant

38

142

Mortgage dispute

2

6

Other

12

51

Refusal to extend closing date

9

14

Securities Litigation

5

26

Derivative shareholder claims

1

2

Other

4

22

Broker/dealer disputes

 

1

Exchange disputes

 

2

Trade

1

1

Tariffs

1

1

 

COVID-19 Cases as of July 7, 2020 by Rank

Insurance

838

Civil Rights

592

Prisoner petitions

575

Labor & Employment

285

Consumer Cases

233

Real Property

215

Education

187

Contract Disputes

178

Not Coded

81

Banking/Financial Services

66

Health/Medical

62

Misc. Tort

32

Securities Litigation

26

Intellectual Property

19

Challenges against Foreign Sovereigns

11

General Court Admin Orders

10

None

9

Trade

1



[i] More Than 40% of U.S. Coronavirus Deaths Are Linked to Nursing Homes, New York Times, July 7, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/coronavirus-nursing-homes.html.

[ii] THE EMPLOYMENT SITUATION — JUNE 2020, Bureau of Labor Statistics, July 2, 2020, https://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/empsit.pdf.

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