Chamber Litigation Blog

August 7, 2020

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

COVID-19 litigation was a hot topic this week.  Most of the reporting and commentary focused on the first wave of tort suits over worker deaths, debate over the Senate GOP’s proposed liability protections, and an MDL panel hearing to consider the consolidation of hundreds of business-interruption insurance lawsuits.  Here’s a summary (I read the full articles so you don’t have to!) along with links.

August 3, 2020

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

This week saw a noteworthy uptick in workplace-related litigation and suits against federal, state, and local governmental entities. 

July 31, 2020

Daryl Joseffer, U.S. Chamber Litigation Center

Reporting this week focused on the Congressional debate over federal liability protection; the potential for litigation even if legislation passes; back-to-school requests for liability waivers; BigLaw suits for rent abatement; and a court ruling against cruise ship passengers who did not contract COVID-19 but sued anyway.

July 27, 2020

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

As COVID-19 infection rates in many parts of the country spiked upwards this past week, government and workplace lawsuits continued to occupy center stage.  Many of these suits are now at cross-purposes, such as suits seeking to require or prevent reopenings, or to enforce or impede mask mandates. 

July 24, 2020

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

This week’s reporting and commentary on COVID-19 litigation primarily focused on the debate over federal liability protections: the highlights of the Senate GOP’s proposal (expected to be released next week), the Democrats’ alternative proposal, a possible compromise, and a letter from 21 state governors urging Congress to act.  Other interesting articles took a closer look at state liability protections, liability waivers for independent contractors, and the CFPB’s latest enforcement priorities amid the pandemic.

July 20, 2020

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

After a brief slowdown around July Fourth, the COVID-19 litigation machine has cranked back into high gear, with a number of important opinions, a high-profile retreat by the federal government, and scores of new filings. 

July 17, 2020

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

This week’s reporting and commentary on COVID-19 litigation focused on forthcoming proposals in Congress for liability protections, the limits of existing federal and state lawsuit shields, undeterred plaintiffs’ attorneys pursuing litigation and advertising despite such protections, the surge in workplace class-actions, and the debate over masks.

July 13, 2020

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

Many of last week’s interesting COVID-19 related lawsuits involved the government.  While litigation continued over state stay-at-home orders, Harvard and MIT challenged a new federal policy that would force foreign students on visas to return home if their classes are entirely online.  In the meantime, some landlords and tenants took a break from suing each other by suing city governments, arguing the cities are required to either ban or permit evictions for unpaid rent.

July 13, 2020

Shay Dvoretzky and Jeffrey Johnson

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) is one of the most abused statutes in the United States Code.  Plaintiffs’ lawyers have leveraged uncapped statutory damages, relatively easy class certification, and widespread judicial uncertainty into massive settlements in nearly every sector of the economy.

Two issues have dominated recent litigation surrounding the TCPA: the constitutionality of the statute in light of its exemption for calls made to collect government-owned or government-backed debt, and the scope of its restriction on calls made from an “automatic telephone dialing system.” In Barr v. American Association of Political Consultants, the Supreme Court (largely) resolved the first question by severing the content-based exemption, leaving every caller subject to the TCPA’s demands. And in Facebook Inc. v. Duguid—granted for review just a few days after Barr was decided—the Supreme Court will resolve the second issue, deciding (once and for all?) the kinds of equipment subject to the TCPA.  

July 10, 2020

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

This week’s reporting and commentary on COVID-19 litigation focused on an “exponential” increase in workplace litigation, a potential wave of False Claims Act lawsuits related to CARES Act funds, the continuing debate over federal liability protections, and the complexities of liability waivers.

July 8, 2020

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

This past week saw noticeably fewer new COVID-19-related lawsuits, but we expect this is attributable to the long Independence Day weekend.  And the week did bring with it several noteworthy developments.

July 7, 2020

Andrew J. Pincus, Mayer Brown LLP

​The Supreme Court’s decision last week in Seila Law LLC v. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau resolves a decade-long controversy about the constitutionality of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s single-director structure. The Court held that “the CFPB’s leadership by a single individual removable only for inefficiency, neglect, or malfeasance violates the separation of powers.” (The Court’s constitutional analysis largely paralleled the approach advocated in the Chamber’s amicus brief.) 

July 1, 2020

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

This week’s reporting and commentary on COVID-19 litigation focused on the prospects of a litigious summer, the risks of liability waivers, and disputes over business-interruption insurance coverage.

June 29, 2020

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

Last week’s slew of new COVID-19 lawsuits included many more workplace actions, challenges to stay-at-home and reopening orders, and government enforcement actions.  We also saw several court orders as suits that we’ve reported on for many weeks have continued to mature. 

June 26, 2020

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

Discrimination and personal-injury lawsuits, the debate over federal liability protections, the use of liability waivers, and lawsuits against China highlighted this week’s reporting and commentary on COVID-19 litigation.  The National Law Review also has an updated and very comprehensive report summarizing “the shifting state, territorial and local government policies and guidance in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and reopening of the economy.”

June 22, 2020

Daryl Joseffer and Jonathan D. Urick, U.S. Chamber Litigation Center

As Congress continues to debate federal coronavirus liability protections, reopening businesses are increasingly turning to liability waivers to minimize their legal risk.

June 22, 2020

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

This week in COVID-19 litigation features claims involving a televangelist and a movie star-turned-producer, enforcement actions by EPA, private enforcement efforts by 3M, several interesting suits against business closure orders, and colorful defamation and failure-to-protect complaints.

June 17, 2020

California State Courts More Permissive Than Federal Courts

Lauren De Lilly and Alexandria Ruiz, Sidley Austin LLP

In purported class actions, precertification discovery requests to obtain information about similarly situated individuals are often nothing more than burdensome fishing expeditions designed to identify additional clients for plaintiffs’ counsel. The potential for abuse is especially high when a case has devolved into a “headless” class action, i.e., when a court has determined that the named plaintiff is ineligible to represent the purported class. 

Federal courts understand and have generally barred discovery that seeks only to identify a replacement class representative.  But California state courts—a hot bed of class action litigation—have been more permissive, making it all the more important to remove purported class actions from state to federal courts in California.

June 16, 2020

Kelly Dunbar and Thomas Sprankling, WilmerHale LLP

In response to the spread of COVID-19, a number of state governors and other executive branch officials claimed emergency powers to enact comprehensive shelter-in-place policies.  We wrote a post last month on potential intergovernmental litigation, i.e., litigation between different States or between States and the federal government, over these stay-at-home orders.  This post covers intragovernmental litigation.  Unable to shape the scope of emergency orders through normal political processes, state legislators and local governments alike have filed lawsuits trying to strike down the orders in full or in part—with mixed success.

June 15, 2020

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

Welcome to our tenth litigation roundup post!  Over the past several months, we have tracked over 1,000 business-related COVID-19 cases, and the filings show no sign of abating.  On the contrary, they continue to pile up at remarkable speed.  This past week had a major legal development involving OSHA and particularly colorful cases involving the Chicago Transit Authority, a fraudulent scheme to “sell” 900 billion N95 masks, and actress Reese Witherspoon. Par for the course in the world of COVID-19 litigation.