May 08, 2020


Daryl Joseffer, U.S. Chamber Litigation Center

When it comes to COVID-19 business litigation, the main topic of the week has been liability protection for businesses that reopen during the pandemic, follow federal and state health authorities’ guidelines for curbing the spread of infection, but are nonetheless sued by employees, customers, or vendors who contract the virus during this unprecedented time.

NPR interviewed the Chamber’s Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer Neil Bradley, who explained that the Chamber is seeking “temporary targeted relief” in the form of “a safe harbor” for companies that comply with recommendations of federal and state health authorities. “[B]usinesses who are trying to do the right thing shouldn’t be second-guessed a year later in a court of law.”

The Wall Street Journal surveyed the debate, quoting Sen. Mitt Romney: “It’s essential if we’re going to get the economy going again not to have every business becoming sued . . . . ”

The Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform stressed the immediacy of this problem in COVID-19: Federal Problems and Solutions. After quoting a prominent plaintiffs’ lawyer as saying “[w]e’ve never been busier,” ILR’s publication walks through the liability problems faced by reopening businesses and proposes legislative and regulatory solutions.

The West Virginia Record reported: “Law firms criticized for advertising services during Coronavirus pandemic.” An op-ed in Real Clear Politics, ILR’s President, Harold Kim, elaborated on the mobilization of plaintiffs’ lawyers:

Already, trial lawyers in Florida, Ohio, and Tennessee are airing aids for COVID-related lawsuits. Lawsuit marketers are soliciting law firms to take advantage of cheap ad buys. Even litigation funders­­ — the group that takes a cut of settlements in exchange for financing lawsuits — are touting their services.

More to come.