COVID-19 Pandemic Class Action Lawsuits Likely to Prevail in 2020
Walmart has a reputation for settling class action suits filed by its employees. During April 2020, the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of Illinois approved a $14 million settlement for discrimination against pregnant employees. The settlement finally reached with the National Women's Law Center will be divided among 4,000 women who needed minor accommodations during their pregnancies from 2013 to 2014. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) holds Walmart to higher standards than most retailers due to their high sales volume. Walmart has a duty to protect employees and customers from the COVID-19 Coronavirus according to the CDC. Class action wrongful death lawsuits are being filed against the retailer.
College and University Tuition, Board, Service Fees
College students, forced out of their dormitories and into online learning, rightfully claim that the United States Department of Education and the college or university they attend owe them a refund or a cancellation of their student loan debt for housing and other campus based fees because they are not living on campus. Students sent home early during the first quarter of the pandemic filed class action suits for reimbursement of their unused tuition. Schools from California to Pennsylvania and Florida are facing class actions suits for tuition reimbursement. The Arizona Board of Regents refused to refund tuition, room and board, and service fees resulting in a class action lawsuit, Rosenkrantz et al v. Arizona Board of Regents, March 27, 2020.
Nonessential Businesses and Employers' Inadequate Protection of Workers
Nonessential businesses that operated during the pandemic in violation of government orders to close are facing class action suits by workers and their families who got Covid-19. Nonessential workers ordered to work anyway died from COVID-19. Essential businesses face class action suits because they forced employees to work without adequate personal protection. The State of Alaska is being sued by 8,000 employees who were forced to work without regard for their health and safety. Safeway, Tysons, Albertson's and Walmart are all facing class action lawsuits because they failed to follow the Occupational Safety and Health Administration COVID-19 guidelines.
Class action suits are filed against insurance companies that denied claims of coverage for losses due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Milwaukee businesses are suing their insurance companies who reneged on their "business interruption" coverage. The outcome of the litigation remains to be seen. The Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations filed against Lloyd’s of London arguing that their business liability insurance policies owe them compensation for their losses due to business closures and for employees losses from exposure to covid-19.
Class Action Lawsuits Against Government Closure of Businesses
In May 2020, Pennsylvania business owners filed against the Governor and the state of Pennsylvania for closing their nonessential businesses. The litigants claim that closure of their businesses amounts to a violation of their fifth amendment rights to their business properties. The unlawful seizure of their business properties forced them to close their doors without notice for an undesignated amount of time. California businesses filed a class action suit against their government hoping for a declaratory judgement to add more businesses to the list of essential businesses.
Zoom Violation of the Privacy Act
Zoom, the now popular online solution for prohibited social gatherings, is far from ideal, but it usually accomplishes it's purpose without exposing participants to the coronavirus. Without the commute, Zoom brings previously unimagined organizations and court proceedings directly into our living rooms.
In March 2020, Robert Cullen filed against Zoom Video Communications, Inc. because prior to entering a secure meeting, participants are required to open and install the Zoom application. The Zoom application collects personal information and shares it without advanced written permission from the participants. The class action litigants claim that Zoom is unfair under California's Unfair Competition Law. Zoom's violations of the California Consumer Protection Act are unlawful and fraudulent business practices.
Wrongful Deaths in U. S. Jails and Prisons
Despite Reuter's expose of 4,998 Dying Inside jails and prisons in the United States, class action lawsuits filed against correctional institutions for inadequate precautions to keep prisoners safe from the spread of Covid-19 have failed. A class action suit filed to preserve prisoner's rights to CARES Act stimulus checks may prevail.
The outcome of coronavirus-related class action lawsuits is difficult to predict. Businesses are urged to collaborate with others while navigating the maze of coronavirus orders, their rights, and their employee's rights amidst ever-changing CARES and HEROS Act legislation.
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