Long after the coronavirus outbreak and all of the anxiety surrounding it have ended, the virus will live on in courtrooms across the country. That's due to all of the expected legal action stemming from the outbreak and the mass hysteria that has accompanied it. "You're going to see suits against hospitals, restaurants, daycare centers, nursing homes, airlines, hotels, cruise ships...with claims that they failed to protect their customers or the public," says Quentin Brogdon, Dallas-based attorney and legal commentator.
Brogdon tells KTRH he also expects to see lawsuits against companies over missed shipping deadlines, suits against insurance companies regarding coverage for treatment, and suits against employers by employees over missed work and pay. A central issue in many of these cases will be whether the virus qualifies as an "act of God," a legal standard which can absolve a defendant of liability. "Sickness certainly could arguably be considered an act of God, depending on the sickness and the foreseeability of it," he says. "But that's one of those issues that's going to have to be hashed out in courtrooms."
Already, a couple on the Grand Princess cruise ship that was held off the coast of California for days after several passengers tested positive for coronavirus is suing for one million dollars. And there's likely more of that to come. "These things often take years to play out at the courthouse," says Brogdon. "So we can reasonably expect that these fights are going to be playing out in courthouses over the next several years."