We’re handling COVID-19 cases against Life Care Center and Holland America.
These cases are a natural extension of our work representing cruise line passengers and nursing home residents. And we have defendant’s dead to rights.
But if corporate defendants can’t win in the courtroom, they take the fight somewhere else. And “somewhere else” in these cases means the legislature.
The nation’s largest business lobby, the US Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for Legal Reform, has written draft legislation designed to shield companies from liability related to the pandemic and distributed it to state and federal lawmakers.
Bills championed by the Chamber of Commerce and others impose radical and unnecessary restrictions on the rights of injured people and their families.
Special Interests want lawmakers to give businesses a free pass when they cut corners on health and safety.
In our cases the defendants have taken the position “how were we supposed to know” that there might be a pandemic?
Even taken at face-value defendants’ arguments demonstrate nothing other than purposeful ignorance. A pandemic involving a viral infection was not a black swan: It was not a rare event that was beyond the realm of normal expectations in history, science and medicine.
Public health concentrates on issues like highly contagious diseases that have the potential to affect large portions of the population. Pandemics are on the
radars of all public health organizations and large businesses.
The first recorded pandemic occurred in 430 B.C. during the Peloponnesian War.
The disease passed through Libya, Ethiopia and Egypt; it crossed the Athenian walls as the Spartans laid siege.
Various plagues afflicted the early world. In 1350 the Black Death moved from
Asia to Europe and killed one-third of the world’s population.
In 1918 the Spanish Flu spread around the world and caused 50 million deaths.
In 1957 the Asian Flu started in Hong Kong, spread throughout China and then
entered the United States. It caused 1.1M deaths globally and 116,000 deaths in the United States.
In 2003 we encountered SARS (a coronavirus). It spread from the animal to the
human population in China and then migrated to other countries. It was seen by global health professionals as a wake-up call to improve outbreak responses.
Following SARS, the world faced Ebola (2014-2016) and MERS (2015-Present)
(MERS is also a coronavirus).
Before COVID-19 emerged, it was known that pandemics (involving coronaviruses) existed and would continue to occur.
Businesses that take reasonable precautions based on what is known at the time do not
have to worry about liability.
Businesses that do not take reasonable precautions and ignore information available to them from a multitude of reliable sources will find themselves liable for both compensatory and punitive damages.
Failing to plan is planning to fail. Immunity laws are exactly the wrong approach to stop this pandemic and will lead to more injury and death.