The past two years have dramatically changed the legal practice, and some of those changes may be here to stay. At the beginning of the pandemic, many courts closed completely. Now, court rules are in flux. Bench trials have been remote; jury trials have been hybrid; and court appearances have been conducted remotely via teleconference and video conference. While some of these changes are temporary adaptations, some are likely permanent. Attorneys should expect continued hearing and jury disruptions.
December 27, 2021 brought a shift in vaccination requirements for New Yorkers. Businesses and employees should be aware of their new obligations. More employees are now required to be vaccinated. Employees in eligible positions must take specific steps, and businesses are required to demonstrate their employees have taken such steps. Businesses who do business with independent contractors should also be aware of special requirements.
During the pandemic, many businesses felt the impact of government regulations. With regulations like curfews, mask mandates, and changing capacity limits, businesses have experienced upheaval throughout the pandemic. Legal ramifications for such situations are still evolving. In New Jersey, one restaurant argued that business revenue lost due to a takeout/delivery-only requirement was covered by its insurance policy.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, restauranteurs are facing a litany of issues. With changing governmental restrictions, restaurants have had to adapt more than most businesses. Some restauranteurs have taken to the courts to try and recoup losses. In a recent Colorado case, the court examined loss coverage stemming from the pandemic.
A Florida jury awarded $48,257,922 to a tenant who lived in an apartment with “toxic” mold for approximately one and a half years. This verdict included $35 million for past and future pain and suffering and $10 million for future medical costs! While the defendants were not represented at trial, the award is a shot across the bow at what Nuclear Verdicts™ may look like post-pandemic.
On August 27th, the New York State Bar Association’s Emergency Task Force on Mandatory Vaccination and Safeguarding the Public’s Health (“Task Force”) released a report detailing its discussions on the COVID-19 vaccine. Among its many recommendations, the Task Force urged lawyers, employers, and their employees to get vaccinated, as well as teachers, students (when approved for their age group), and university students, faculty, and staff. In addition, the Task Force recommended vaccine access be provided in correctional facilities and in immigration detention facilities.
This article will discuss the origins of the PREP Act and its use as a tool to provide immunity from civil prosecution to senior living facilities from actions arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic. We will briefly review the history of the PREP Act, address its use to protect senior living facilities from prosecution during the pandemic, and address the limits of immunity and the next battlegrounds in litigation.
In our April Newsletter, Tyson & Mendes reported a California federal court dismissed a lawsuit filed by the wife of a construction worker. Plaintiff claimed her husband contracted COVID-19 at work and brought the virus home infecting her as well. Following the dismissal, the district court judge gave plaintiff an opportunity to amend her complaint. At a hearing on May 7, 2021, the court upheld the dismissal without further leave to amend. As of this date, it is unknown whether plaintiff will appeal.
California recently passed the one-year anniversary of the COVID-19 stay at home order. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected lives in different ways. Employees who regularly worked in an office now work from home. Restaurant chains open for years have shut their doors for good as they could no longer turn a profit. COVID-19 has also affected litigation. It was unclear what types of suits would result from the pandemic. However, a year into this unforeseen global epidemic, we now have a better idea of the types of lawsuits which will be filed. This article explores recent news involving COVID-19 litigation throughout the United States in an effort to achieve a better understanding of how litigation has changed.
While the streaming of recorded music remains healthy, live music venues, musicians, and those who support them have been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Restaurants may survive by offering food to go and in some instances outdoor seating, but a concert cannot be packaged to take home, and it is not practical to perform outdoors for small groups, even when weather and noise are not concerns. Following are summaries of two recent music industry decisions, one a win for an insurer and one a win for a concertgoer. A third ongoing case involving a dispute with an insurer over a cancelled music tour is also discussed.
March 2021 marks the year anniversary that jury trials seemingly ceased to exist as we once knew them – that is, before COVID-19 abruptly shifted the courtroom. In the past year, jury trials have been ridden with unpredictability. One can rarely read a legal document these days without at least some mention of COVID-19 and its impact on the overall timeline of a matter. Are jury trials really a distant memory while still navigating midst of the COVID-19 era, or will innovation and the embrace of a new normal propel us forward?
Millionacres – January 19, 2021
Rob Olson is senior counsel in San Diego with Tyson & Mendes, a litigation firm that specializes in insurance defense. He said:
“The first question in evaluating a lawsuit over COVID exposure: Where did the plaintiff allege they were exposed? If it was at work, in a tenant’s office space, then it is outside the property owners’ control. But if the plaintiff alleges that they were exposed in a common area, then the property owner may not easily get out of the lawsuit.”
According to Law360, there are over 1,400 federal lawsuits fighting denials by insurance carriers for COVID-19 business loss coverage and over 600 such suits in state court. In last month’s Newsletter, we reported the dismissal of the complaint of two Fresno hotels claiming business losses based on the virus exclusion in their respective insurance policies continuing the trend of California courts. (West Coast Hotel Management, LLC…
The Central District Court of California has dismissed the Complaint of two Fresno hotels claiming business losses to COVID-19. Following the trend of other California courts, the Central District Court found the Complaint failed to specifically allege facts supporting a claim for Business Income and Civil Authority coverage under the applicable Insurance Policy. Accordingly, the Court held the hotels’ COVID-19 related business losses were excluded from coverage under the Policy’s Virus Exclusion.
During an extended period of COVID-19-related changes to the way businesses operate, and considering the uncertainty of what the situation may be in the coming months, the potential significance of a recent Illinois Supreme Court’s opinion on the issue of whether a home office is sufficient for purposes of establishing venue cannot be overemphasized. Even though the facts of Tabirta v. Cummings, 2020 IL 124798, originated well before COVID-19 surfaced to influence many parts of everyday life, its issuance during the pandemic serves to provide guidance for business owners and defense counsel alike moving forward, especially when so many employees are working from home.
Soon after States began imposing quarantine restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it became readily apparent many businesses would be severely and negatively impacted, perhaps permanently. Certainly, for home improvement and home gardening retailers, both online and brick-and-mortar, 2020 has been a lucrative year. However, other businesses, such as gyms, salons, restaurants, and bars, which rely primarily on patrons visiting their locations in person, have seen catastrophic consequences due to the pandemic. The federal government recognized the devastating effects pandemic-related restrictions would…
With the current health pandemic lingering on longer than most people expected, courts have been struggling to find ways to get cases moving forward in light of extended court closures and the inability to assemble jurors. On August 11, 2020, a court in the Fourth Circuit for Duval County held a one day damages trial involving a plaintiff dancer and a bar owner. Jurors were summonsed in the normal fashion, but given instructions for Zoom appearances. Jury selection occurred all via the Zoom platform. While admittedly not ideal for longer, more complicated…