Will Coronavirus Inspire Class-Action Lawsuits?
Coronavirus (COVID-19) is an international pandemic that has claimed the lives of nearly 5,000 people worldwide. In the United States, many people contracted the illness from international travel and vacations aboard cruise ships. Tragically, most of the deaths attributed to the virus in the United States have occurred at nursing homes.
Many potential clients are wondering if they can file suit against the cruise ships, nursing homes, or hospitals where they were infected or treated. As of early March, there seems to be enough evidence to investigate, but not quite enough to file a lawsuit.
According to Law.com, filing a personal injury lawsuit could be relevant if ships like the Diamond Princess failed to take “all reasonable measures” to prevent exposure. Similarly, nursing home claims may be valid if the plaintiff can prove negligence and suffered measurable injuries or losses. For cruise ships, litigation may be especially tricky, as passengers explicitly waive their rights to class actions when they purchase a ticket.
Due to these challenges, many attorneys are holding off on coronavirus litigation until more details emerge, but some, especially those accustomed to cruise ship cases have already filed suit.
Norovirus on Steroids
One Florida attorney has already filed suit against the California-based cruise line, Princess Cruises Ltd., alleging $1 million for emotional distress and trauma during quarantine. A second lawsuit is on the way and represents another cool million should the plaintiffs win.
While no other lawsuits have been filed, the firm responsible for the first filings has 6 other families on its client roster. The firm’s managing partner also states he is “swamped with inquiries,” and calls the outbreak “Norovirus on steroids.”
With allegations of negligence and gross negligence, the firm highlights the potential consequences of coronavirus and insists that Princess Crew could have prevented the 700 cases of coronavirus in passengers and crew:
“Norovirus, people come back with a bad stomach; this [coronavirus], people die…We believe cruise lines have a pattern of putting profits over their passengers. They’re afraid if they stop running the ships, they’ll lose money when that’s what they should do for the safety of their customers.”
In short, coronavirus is a gamble for plaintiffs’ attorneys. If it pays off, however, lawyers are looking at hefty contingency fees and hundreds of clients.
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