May 29, 2020


By Jonathan D. Urick, U.S. Chamber Litigation Center

As states slowly ease restrictions, coronavirus litigation continues to grow, as do calls for business liability protections.

According to JD Supra’s latest weekly update on COVID-19-related litigation, workers’ compensation claims, personal injury lawsuits, refund claims, and various fraud claims are all on the rise. In particular, the writers “expect workers’ compensation claims and personal injury claims to pick up now that parts of America have reopened and the remaining parts are following.”

Reuters highlights a class-action lawsuit recently filed by workers (and their families) at several Chicago-area McDonald’s franchises alleging that the restaurants are a “public nuisance” for, in the plaintiffs’ view, taking inadequate safety precautions against spreading COVID-19. In response to this and other lawsuits, Restaurant Business Online explains, the restaurant industry is calling for liability protections. Legal Newsline reports that more than 200 business organizations, led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its Institute for Legal Reform, submitted a letter urging Congress to address the threat of crushing COVID-19 lawsuits as the economy reopens.

The Hill notes that “[s]tates and some companies aren’t waiting for Congress and the White House to work out a possible liability shield and are instead taking steps to insulate businesses on their own from lawsuits in the coronavirus era.” Accord to the article, “[m]any states have granted some form of liability immunity to health care workers and facilities,” and several are considering wider protections. Some reopening companies are also including disclaimers warning customers that they assume the risk of contracting COVID-19.

Finally, USA Today examines the various legal challenges to state shutdown orders as residents, businesses, and even some lawmakers become increasingly frustrated with restrictions designed to prevent the spread of coronavirus.