The fallout from the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis has hit our nation’s legal system. It has been reported that 917 federal and state lawsuits have been filed due to the pandemic on a number of legal grounds ranging from unsafe working conditions for frontline workers to individuals and businesses facing financial difficulties.
And it appears this is just the beginning. Global and national disasters regularly bring on an onslaught of legal filings, as was the case following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The number of deaths reported in the U.S. have surpassed the number of Americans killed during the Vietnam War. COVID-19 has led to more than 30 million unemployment filings, the highest since the Great Depression.
One of the main categories of lawsuits being filed involve those being brought by frontline workers, such as nurses and doctors, who claim that their employers are not providing them with sufficient protective gear while working. Their lawsuits also allege that their employers are forcing them to work in unsafe work conditions, leading many of them to contract the disease from patients whose lives they are trying to save.
Workplace safety issues are also a concern of those in the grocery and retail industry, as workers allege their employers are not providing them with safety gear, exposing them to the risk of contracting COVID-19.
Other employment lawsuits have been filed under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act passed by Congress in March 2020. Under this act, employers were required to offer paid leave for child-care because many parents were forced to stay at home or figure out a way to work from home due to school and daycare closures. Not all employers were willing to work with their employees, which has led to many lawsuits being filed under this act.
The travel industry was also rocked by the pandemic as travel plans were suddenly cancelled. Customers are now demanding their money back, including airfare tickets. United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and Southwest Airlines are all facing class-action lawsuits from customers who are alleging they were not able to get cash refunds but were offered credits and vouchers instead, despite the fact that the terms of service required a refund due to the circumstances involved.
Not only are travel plans being cancelled, but so are sporting and other major events. Class-action lawsuits have been filed after major sporting events, such as the NHL season, have been cancelled, leaving ticketholders in a major predicament. StubHub is facing a lawsuit after a man in Wisconsin attempted to get his money back after NHL cancelled the entire hockey season. His lawsuit claims that StubHub changed the terms of its refund policy.
Colleges are also finding themselves at the center of lawsuits after college campuses ended their in-person instruction, resorting to all online learning. Many students filed a lawsuit claiming that they paid for a comprehensive academic experience, only receiving the bare minimum as a result without compensation for the services they were not receiving. As the fall approaches and other colleges decide whether to open to in-person instruction, these lawsuits may increase.
Lawsuits have also been growing with respect to the loans and grants made available to struggling businesses under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the money set aside in the stimulus bill for these businesses. After applying for the PPP funds, businesses are alleging that banks through which they applied for this funding have favored certain clients in giving them the money first and have unjustly layered internal rules not originally disclosed to applicants. Bank of America finds itself at the forefront of many of these lawsuits.
Bankruptcy filings also head up many of these filings as many businesses have been forced to either close or file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. These filings include large companies, such J-Crew and Nieman Marcus, as well as smaller mom and pop businesses. As time goes by and as the crisis prolongs, the number of bankruptcy filings for both individuals and businesses is expected to increase, as well.
The safety and well-being of our clients and team has and continues to be Aronfeld Trial Lawyers top priority during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our offices remain fully operational and our team stands ready to represent the needs of our clients through these difficult times. If you need us, we are available 24/7 via phone at (305) 441-0440, live chat on aronfeld.com, Skype or FaceTime.