Thursday, 20 August 2020 16:03

Scanning the COVID-19 Litigation Scene

Written by Esquire Deposition Solutions, for JD Supra


Six months into our shared national adventure with SARS-CoV-2, mere words have lost their power to frame the gravity of the moment.

The phrase “coronavirus pandemic” rolls off everyone’s tongue so easily, as if the topic under discussion were a baseball score or a grocery list. And the phrase “new normal” makes the humdrum state of affairs formerly known as “normal” seem like a blissful, but as-yet merely aspirational, condition.


Yes, the COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented. Yes, living with the pandemic forces us to reexamine every aspect of our personal and professional lives. Yes, life will never be the same. And, finally, yes, COVID-19 has inspired a wave of litigation heretofore unseen in the U.S.


As of Aug. 11, 4,219 lawsuits have been filed raising legal issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to an ambitious tracking effort by law firm Hunton Andrews Kurth.


To put this number in perspective, consider that the Year 2000 bug, a programming error that threatened to crash most computing systems on Jan. 1, 2000, produced no more than a few hundred lawsuits before being effectively squelched by the 1999 Y2K Act, a federal liability-limiting measure. The 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, which decimated the Gulf Coast area and led to tens of billions in payouts to private parties and government-imposed penalties, likely spurred no more than a thousand individual lawsuits, according to data assembled by Syracuse University researchers in 2018.

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