Class-Action Lawsuits and COVID-19

July 22, 2020


As the coronavirus continues to surge across the United States, we are witnessing a growing number of class-action lawsuits related to COVID-19 cases. In fact, class-action claims are making headlines as businesses grapple with this new area of litigation. From lawsuits over mask mandates to teachers taking on the state over reopening schools in the fall, it’s safe to say we are living in unprecedented times.

But what are the rules, and what exactly is happening with these class-action lawsuits amid COVID-19? Numerous areas are facing litigation related to the pandemic, and experts predict these numbers will only increase as the virus continues to wreak havoc on communities in Texas and across the nation. Many lawsuits are traditional employee vs. employer cases, but we also see class-action lawsuits in many states. Today, we are going to take a closer look at class-action lawsuits and what your rights are.

The pandemic has led to widespread disruption amongst businesses, employers, and government entities in every corner of the world. Stay-at-home orders, shutdowns, social distancing efforts, and mandatory mask mandates have led to the closing of many businesses and the cancellation of millions of events. With this, we’ve also seen class-action lawsuits stemming from the pandemic. If the virus has affected you because of the actions or negligence of another party, don’t hesitate to contact Shamieh Law.

What is a class-action lawsuit?

Chances are you’ve heard the term “class-action,” but what does it mean? By definition, a class-action lawsuit is when a group of people with the same or similar injuries caused by the same action or product file a lawsuit against the person or entity responsible as a group. These types of cases are also known as mass tort litigation or multi-district litigation.

COVID-19 Lawsuits on the Rise

Some of the categories of class-action lawsuits we’ve seen thus far include:

  • Consumer protection – Examples include failure to refund, collection of recurring fees from gyms and other businesses that typically charge monthly membership fees, and consumer fraud and protection. Additionally, ski resorts and other venues are also facing class-actions for preventing members from canceling their membership or failing to provide refunds for season passes.
  • Educational institutions – Universities across the country are facing class-action lawsuits that allege the schools did not appropriately refund students for room and board, tuition, and other campus fees.
  • Failure to protect employees from the coronavirus – As a direct result, the employee becomes sick with the virus.
  • Failure to protect consumers from the coronavirus – As a direct result, the customer becomes sick with the virus.
  • Business disruption insurance
  • Employment concerns
  • Security
  • Data security
  • Government-related lawsuits
  • State actions and policies
  • Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan cases
  • Price gouging and antitrust cases (as we discussed in a previous post)
  • Consumers refund cases – Airlines have been at the center of these cases, Southwest, JetBlue, Delta, United, and others facing class-action lawsuits for failing to refund customers for canceled flights.
  • False advertising of products claiming sanitizing or other health benefits

Class Action Against McDonald’s

Another recent example of a class-action lawsuit occurred earlier this month in Chicago when five McDonald’s employees filed a lawsuit against the chain for endangering employees by failing to implement government-recommended safety protocols for COVID-19. According to the lawsuit, the popular fast-food chain did not provide staff with adequate hand sanitizer, gloves, or masks, and has failed to notify staff when another employee tested positive for COVID-19. McDonald’s continues to deny the allegations, stating they were “inaccurate” and that “safety, including wellness checks and protective gear, was a top priority.” In addition to the class-action lawsuit filed in Illinois, employees at three separate California locations took action over unsafe conditions with the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health.

We may start to see a trend in class-action activity in the following areas:

  • Consumer disputes
  • Commercial real estate
  • Privacy and data concerns with the increase in remote work
  • Real estate and construction
  • Business insurance
  • Employment issues relating to reopening, discrimination claims, retaliation claims, whistleblower claims
  • Privacy issues relating to the handling of COVID-19 diagnosis cases
  • Wrongful death claims

Understanding Your Rights

Knowing your rights is a must if you are going to pursue a class-action lawsuit because of COVID-19. Whether your employer failed to protect you by not following guidelines or were put at risk because of your state government officials’ actions, you may have the right to a lawsuit. As you can imagine, these cases are incredibly complex and require a knowledgeable Dallas lawyer’s expertise. We will go over your case with you and help you understand your options. In some cases, we may recommend filing an individual lawsuit, but others may be better suited for a class-action.

Should I File a Class-Action Lawsuit?

The bottom line? Businesses across many different industries are facing class-action lawsuits because of the novel coronavirus. As COVID-19 remains a growing concern for the American people, we expect companies across all sectors to find themselves in the middle of class-action claims related to the virus. It remains unknown whether plaintiffs can achieve class certification, but we assure you that our experienced lawyers are keeping a close eye on these cases as they advance. If you would like to learn more about filing a class-action lawsuit in Texas for an action or event related to COVID-19, contact Shamieh Law today and schedule a free consultation.