Chamber Litigation Blog

June 1, 2020

Jason A. Levine, Peter E. Masaitis, Alex Akerman, Gillian H. Clow, Debolina Das, and Kaelyne Wietelman, Alston & Bird LLP

It was another busy week for litigation related to COVID-19, with scores of new filings – including interesting new variations on several old themes – and courts deciding several important cases. 

May 29, 2020

By Jonathan D. Urick, U.S. Chamber Litigation Center

As states slowly ease restrictions, coronavirus litigation continues to grow, as do calls for business liability protections.

May 26, 2020

Jason A. Levine, Peter E. Masaitis, Alex Akerman, Fiona O’Carroll and Gillian H. Clow, Alston & Bird LLP

New COVID-19 related filings continued to pour in last week, along with some interesting decisions.  The filings demonstrated both expansion and maturation of COVID-19 related claims. 

May 22, 2020

Daryl Joseffer and Jonathan D. Urick, US Chamber Litigation Center

The debate continued this week over the wave of COVID-19 related lawsuits and the need to provide a safe harbor for businesses that comply in good faith with guidance from public health authorities.

May 19, 2020

Jason A. Levine, Peter E. Masaitis, Alex Akerman, Fiona O’Carroll and Gillian H. Clow, Alston & Bird LLP

The wave of litigation related to the COVID-19 pandemic grew this past week, with surging volume in most of the categories we’ve been tracking.  The most important developments involved challenges to statewide stay-at home orders.

May 15, 2020

Jonathan D. Urick, Senior Counsel, U.S. Chamber Litigation Center

Protecting businesses from an onslaught of COVID-19 litigation remains front and center in the debate over reopening the economy and new legislation to speed up the recovery.

May 12, 2020

Jason A. Levine, Peter E. Masaitis, Alex Akerman, Fiona O’Carroll and Gillian H. Clow, Alston & Bird LLP

Two weeks ago saw a significant increase in new litigation related to the pandemic, but this past week represents an even larger burst of new filings – approaching 200 new cases.  The number of new complaints increased in nearly all of the categories we’ve been tracking, most notably in the insurance coverage realm. 

May 8, 2020

Daryl Joseffer, U.S. Chamber Litigation Center

When it comes to COVID-19 business litigation, the main topic of the week has been liability protection for businesses that reopen during the pandemic, follow federal and state health authorities’ guidelines for curbing the spread of infection, but are nonetheless sued by employees, customers, or vendors who contract the virus during this unprecedented time.

May 6, 2020

Aaron Streett, Baker Botts LLP

When you take that family dream vacation to Maui, the last thing you want to contemplate is the island’s treated municipal waste water.  But the Supreme Court considered just that in its April 23 opinion.  Well almost—it addressed whether how that treated effluent reached the ocean violated the Clean Water Act.  I’ll offer big-picture takeaways from the opinion, and I’ll answer the question, what does all of this have to do with Little Timmy’s bath time?

May 4, 2020

Jason A. Levine, Peter E. Masaitis, Alex Akerman, Raechel Bimmerle and Fiona O’Carroll, Alston & Bird LLP





There was an explosion of new litigation relating to the pandemic this past week.  Approximately 100 new filings brought the total number of cases well over 350.  Case filings multiplied in most of the categories we’ve been tracking.  And we saw a new category of litigation emerge this week: a claim under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act involving COVID-19 solicitations.  It probably won’t be the last.

We expect the volume of litigation to keep increasing, with plaintiffs seeking MDLs for certain types of cases.  Because of the sharp growth in new case filings, we’ve consolidated our reporting to highlight particularly important or interesting complaints, rather than attempting to cover the full range of new filings. We hope you’ll find this more readable.

April 30, 2020

Kelly Dunbar and Thomas Sprankling, WilmerHale LLP

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a wide array of state and local shelter-in-place orders that will likely breed significant litigation between governments—particularly now that many states are contemplating different approaches and timetables for lifting the orders and as the federal government has announced a commitment to reopening the economy.  Indeed, the Attorney General has suggested that shelter-in-place orders raise civil liberties concerns that may prompt federal litigation against states that are slow to lift the orders. 

This post identifies the ways legal conflicts between the federal government and the states—or between the states themselves—may play out in litigation. 

April 28, 2020

Can state courts order a cleanup remedy at odds with EPA’s cleanup plan for a Superfund site?  The U.S. Supreme Court rejected jurisdictional limitations on consideration of state law claims challenging CERCLA remedies, but held that landowners on the Superfund site in question must obtain EPA approval before they can implement a cleanup plan that differs from EPA’s.  This post analyzes the implications for future cases.

Joshua B. Frank and Martha S. Thomsen, Baker Botts LLP

On April 20, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its long-awaited decision in Atlantic Richfield Co. v. Christian, No. 17-1498.  The high court’s first Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (“CERCLA” or “Superfund”) decision in several years addresses collateral state-law challenges to EPA’s selected cleanup plans.  While the ruling provides some protection from such challenges under some circumstances, it also opens the door to some second-guessing of EPA-selected cleanup plans. 

April 28, 2020

Daryl Joseffer, U.S. Chamber Litigation Center

As readers of this blog know, the Chamber Litigation Center is focused on the hundreds of COVID-related business cases that have already been filed and the thousands more to come.  The Litigation Center’s very own Steven Lehotsky recently talked to the Dispatch about liability concerns facing businesses as they consider reopening in the midst of a pandemic the likes of which our country hasn’t seen in a century. 

We found these other recent articles to be particularly interesting.

April 27, 2020

Jason A. Levine, Peter E. Masaitis, Alex Akerman, Raechel Bimmerle and Fiona O’Carroll, Alston & Bird LLP

Welcome to the third weekly installment of the COVID-19 Litigation Roundup.  The litigation tsunami continued to build last week.  Well over 250 business lawsuits related to the pandemic are already pending, with seemingly dozens more filed every day. 

Last week we continued to see many consumer class actions for refunds of various sorts and many more assertions of the force majeure and impossibility defenses to contract claims.  Workplace-related suits, including complaints accusing businesses of exposing workers or customers to COVID-19, are also continuing to increase with many more likely to follow.  Suits for business interruption insurance have proliferated at such a rate that some plaintiffs have asked the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation to consolidate all such suits in a single MDL.  We also saw more securities fraud and price-gouging actions.

Litigation related to government programs continues to build.  Multiple lawsuits claimed that banks inappropriately prioritized large Paycheck Protection Program loans.  In another case, political consultants challenged the Small Business Administration’s exclusion of lobbyists and political consultants from that program.  After a district court rejected the challenge, the D.C. Circuit set a highly expedited briefing schedule on appeal.  In the meantime, states got in on the action.  One state sued China for causing the pandemic while another state’s legislature sued its own Executive Branch to challenge the extension of a stay-at-home order.

We describe those and many more cases below.  Check in with us each week to track interesting new cases, court decisions, and the emerging patterns of lawsuits.           

April 24, 2020

Daryl Joseffer, U.S. Chamber Litigation Center

The Chamber Litigation Blog has been reporting on, and analyzing, the litigation tsunami resulting from COVID-19.  We are not, of course, alone.  This recurring column highlights some other articles of interest.  Many recent articles have discussed lawsuits claiming that businesses are responsible when customers and employees are exposed to the novel coronavirus. 

April 23, 2020

This report from the Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform looks at the primary types of litigation emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as early trial lawyer advertising trends and third party litigation funding in the context of COVID-19.

April 21, 2020

Jason A. Levine, Peter E. Masaitis, Alex Akerman, Raechel Bimmerle and Fiona O’Carroll, Alston & Bird LLP

Welcome to the second installment of the COVID-19 Litigation Roundup.  In addition to the nine types of cases we identified last week, new filings have fallen into five more important categories for business:

  • COVID-19 Service-Related Suits
  • Force Majeure/Impossibility Defense
  • “Essential Business” Exemption
  • Price-Gouging Litigation
  • Trademark Infringement

Courts have acted quickly in some cases, issuing decisions concerning employment, government loan programs, and services to nursing homes.  We’re also beginning to see certain areas of COVID-19 business litigation shape up as particularly prominent.  Consumer claims for refunds, employee claims relating to employers’ protective measures and alleged failures to warn, insurance claims, and high-profile private suits over perceived price gouging were on a distinct upswing last week. 

Check the Litigation Roundup weekly to track what courts are doing, how the balance among these categories of cases is shifting, and whether clear patterns emerge.  We’ll be your guide. 

April 16, 2020

Keisha O. ColemanAndrew F. Gann, Jr., and Abram J. Pafford, McGuireWoods LLP

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that most of us feel like we’re, well, living under a rock. COVID-19 has forced the cancellation of countless events and activities, and many individuals and businesses have been unable to perform all sorts of contractual obligations—everything from concerts to conferences to contracts for the supply of widgets. And speaking of widgets, we lawyers have now been shaken out of our home offices and transported back to first-year contracts class, when most of us still remembered what a “force majeure” is. 

Force Majeure, Impossibility, and Frustration of Purpose

Here’s a basic refresher: A “force majeure” or “impossibility” clause excuses contractual performance when it is impossible or impracticable, typically because of an extraordinary event that the parties couldn’t have anticipated or controlled.

April 15, 2020

Welcome to the inaugural COVID-19 Litigation Roundup. The spread of the novel coronavirus has led to a surge of business litigation. So far, most of the cases important to businesses fall into nine categories:

  • Consumer Class Action Refund Claims
  • Consumer Class Action Misrepresentation And Failure-To-Warn Suits
  • Privacy Lawsuits
  • Securities Class Actions
  • Employment And Work-Related Suits
  • Business-on-Business Cancellation Claims
  • Insurance Coverage Litigation
  • Government Enforcement Actions
  • Actions By Businesses Against Government Agencies

These and other types of litigation will have significant effects for businesses of all sizes. They may even shape future law after the current crisis passes. And although dozens of cases have already been filed, they are likely just the tip of the iceberg. Awareness of developments in COVID-19 litigation will therefore be very important.

To help this effort, the Coronavirus Litigation Roundup will provide a weekly sampling of important new business cases, and updates for select ongoing cases.  Where possible, we provide links to referenced filings.  As with COVID-19 itself, only time will tell how this litigation will unfold. But one thing’s for sure: litigation counsel will be busy. That is one of the reasons why the U.S. Chamber unveiled its new Path Forward initiative on Monday, seeking a resolution of the many liability issues that impact how Americans and businesses can return to work safely, successfully, and sustainably.

April 15, 2020

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce highlighted numerous litigation risks in launching its new “Path Forward” program, an initiative to address how Americans and businesses can return to work safely, successfully, and sustainably.  As the Chamber explained, numerous lawsuits have already been filed as a result of COVID-19, and litigation risks will be exacerbated during a reopening of the economy.  The Litigation Center is tracking important and representative lawsuits in its weekly COVID-19 Litigation Roundup.