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Articles Tagged with Covid19

On May 6, 2020, Hart Research, a well known research company with such clients as Boeing, Citi, Disney, Ely Lilly, General Motors, Coca Cola, Travelers, AARP, the Association of  American Colleges and Universities, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, released its findings concerning the public’s opinions concerning the idea of blanket immunity for all businesses from COVID-19 lawsuits.

In summary, voters across party lines say that it is a bad idea to guaranty businesses blanket immunity from COVID-19 lawsuits.  The Hart Research survey included 42% Democrats, 38% Republicans and 20% Independents.

By 64% to 36% voters oppose giving guaranteed immunity to companies from lawsuits in cases involving COVID-19.  Over half of the voters who support President Trump over Joe Biden oppose lawsuit immunity in COVID-19 cases (46% favor, 54% oppose).

The daily headlines are filled with horrific stories describing hundreds of coronavirus deaths at nursing homes across the country.  The most vulnerable in the country are the elderly and those with underlying health issues.  Nursing homes, by their very nature, house those who are in fact the most susceptible to COVID-19.

Despite the fact that nursing homes provide care to the most vulnerable, Federal, State and local authorities are not doing enough to protect their residents.

Nursing home owners and administrators claim that leadership from the Federal government is extremely weak because of a longstanding culture of adversarial relationships.  The industry sees the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) focusing on “inspect, identify weaknesses and punish” rather than providing support and guidance.  John R. Grace has operated nursing homes for more than forty years:  “We are the stepchildren in the healthcare systems and serve the forgotten generation.”

First and foremost, we at Mirick O’Connell hope that you and your family are healthy, and surviving the worst global pandemic in 100 years. As we move through the various stages of battling this virus, it is all but certain we will see major litigation arising out of it. That litigation will likely take many forms.

One sector likely to be hit hard is the cruise and travel industry. We have all heard the news stories about cruise ships being stuck on the water for weeks, as the COVID-19 illness spreads through a huge percentage of the passengers. There will likely be claims in the coming months and years that these ships should not have ever left port with a very predictable outbreak on the horizon, and also claims that once the outbreak worsened, they should have returned before infection rates reached these levels. Claims such as these will be easier to establish than some other claims of infection, as there will often be no doubt as to where an infected person contracted the illness.

Another contentious area of litigation that will arise out of COVID-19 will be insurance bad-faith claims and insurance coverage litigation. There has already been significant publicity surrounding insurance coverage issues for restaurants that have been forced to close by state and local governments. Many insurance policies have exclusions for bacterial or viral outbreaks, and insurance companies will likely fight hard against paying these claims. Already, businesses are claiming they do not need to pay rent, pursuant to force majeure clauses.

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