Covid in Court: Pandemic Prompts New Lawsuits

One profession that isn't suffering in the Covid-19 pandemic: lawyers. The pandemic has brought what Dallas-based attorney Quentin Brogdon describes as a "cascade" of new lawsuits. Some involve essential workers suing companies over possible risk and exposure to the virus, while others center on whether insurance policies apply to various aspects of the pandemic. But perhaps the biggest legal dispute over Covid-19 is in contract disputes, specifically whether the pandemic qualifies as an "act of God"--known as the "force majeure" clause in legal terms.

"Force majeure or act of God clauses spell out the circumstances in which a party is excused from not performing (under the contract)," says Brogdon. "These clauses typically cover extraordinary circumstances like war, rioting, terrorism, and changes in government regulations."

Brogdon tells KTRH most contracts don't include epidemics or pandemics under act of God clauses, but there is wiggle room when it comes to government actions. "The fact that the government is requiring certain types of businesses to close (due to the pandemic)," that could excuse a company from performing under the contract," he says.

Ultimately, there likely won't be a single ruling or decision that determines this area of the law. "Those fights are going to be played out contract by contract, party by party, lawsuit by lawsuit," says Brogdon. "It is going to be a case by case, fact-specific analysis."

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