A Coronavirus Side Effect: Lots of Lawsuits

May 26, 2020 10:47 PM EDT | Staff Reporter

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A Coronavirus Side Effect: Lots of Lawsuits


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As the coronavirus puts the world on pause and forebodes a huge change in the way of life for everyone across the globe, it can be somewhat comforting to know that some things will never change. And one of those things is that there will always be a lot of lawsuits to go around. This might seem like a strange time to see a huge surge of lawsuits but it is usually in times of crisis that an increase occurs. One of the reasons is that some people are looking for someone to blame for their misfortune and there will be others willing to take advantage of that impulse.

While some lawsuits are frivolous and opportunistic, there will be some that are genuinely legitimate and it is important that we be able to distinguish between the two. There will be personal injury lawsuits filed during this period and most of them should be taken seriously since lives may be at risk during this difficult time in history. Ultimately, it is now more important than ever that we be able to separate the pointless and unnecessary lawsuits from the legitimate ones.

The Types of Lawsuits in the Age of Coronavirus

Price Gouging

Some of the more common types of lawsuits that are being filed during the Covid-19 pandemic are about price gouging. Unfortunately, this is common during many disasters and the pandemic is no different. Everyone knows about the extortionate prices charged for bottles of hand sanitizer after all. Those are not the only items that were being sold at huge mark-ups, face masks and toilet paper were also being sold at high prices. Many would argue that those people are getting what they deserve for taking advantage of desperate people during a life or death crisis.

Small Businesses

As small businesses are hit hard by the lockdowns issued to stop the spread of the coronavirus, many of them are filing lawsuits against various entities. Some are suing their insurers for not offering protection against the losses caused by the pandemic. Even though insurers claim that they do not and cannot cover losses caused by a virus, small businesses are suing them for breach of contract. Some small businesses are also suing the mayors and governors of their cities for the losses they suffered due to the closures enforced by those government officials. 

Others are suing the big banks for favoring larger companies when it came to distributing loans from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) that were meant to help keep small businesses afloat. Since small businesses were particularly hard hit by the onset of the coronavirus and the quarantines and lockdowns necessitated by the pandemic, it is perfectly understandable why many of them would resort to lawsuits.

Fake Cures

As you would expect, there are charlatans peddling treatments that they claim will cure or prevent the coronavirus, and as you would expect, there are desperate, scared people willing to try them, and as you would expect, those treatments do not actually work. One could easily argue that lawsuits against snake oil salesmen in a time of crisis are well deserved.

Cruise Ships

The leisure industry is also seeing its fair share of lawsuits as well. As we now know, cruise ships are a breeding ground for the virus, and many cruise lines have been sued for not doing enough to protect their guests. That is certainly understandable, but such lawsuits may prove difficult because of the complex laws involving international waters and the contract of carriage imposed on each sale that limits how and where a passenger can sue.

Airlines

A few airlines have also faced lawsuits over their refusal to offer refunds to customers. Since the virus put national and international travel at a standstill, flights have been canceled but many ticket holders have not received refunds. Instead the airlines have offered them other benefits instead. The US Department of Transportation warned the airline industry that just because circumstances outside of their control caused them to cancel flights, that does not obviate them of their responsibility to provide refunds for tickets that buyers are unable to use.

Colleges and  Universities

Many places of higher education are facing class-action lawsuits over tuition refunds because the Covid-19 pandemic has forced them to resort to online teaching. Many students say that this is not the experience that they signed up for and are seeking refunds as a result. The students say that their tuition is for the full college experience and since they are not getting it, their tuition should be reimbursed. That is especially the case since fees for housing and meal expenses that they are not using are included in the tuition fees.

More Lawsuits are Likely to Come

These are just a fraction of the lawsuits caused by the spread of the coronavirus, and it is highly probable that there are more on the horizon. This is an unprecedented time in history and many people are still learning how to cope. Some will try to take advantage of it, some will do the right thing, and some will try to do the right thing but make mistakes along the way. No matter the case, one thing is for certain, attorneys will be one of the few job types that will be kept busy during, and after, the time of the coronavirus.

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