CHARLESTON, S.C. — A former restaurant server who sued the owner, general manager and their companies in a federal court in South Carolina for allegedly firing him after he left work believing he might have symptoms of COVID-19 and for wage violations believed that COVID-19 was a hoax and has brought "frivolous" claims that are intended to harass, increase the cost of litigation and "extort money," the defendants allege in their Aug. 11 answer and counterclaims (Justin Mackie, et al. v. Coconut Joe's IOP LLC, et al., No. 20-2562, D. S.C.).
SAN FRANCISCO — A federal chief magistrate judge in California on Aug. 4 granted a deluxe travel company’s motion to compel arbitration and stay a University of California alumnus’ breach of contract and bad faith class complaint arising from the travel company’s failure to provide a refund for a cruise canceled because of the novel coronavirus pandemic (Guy Saperstein v. Thomas P. Gohagan & Company, et al., No. 20-03143, N.D. Calif.).
BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Five days after filing a similar lawsuit in Illinois, the law firm Jenner & Block LLP on Aug. 3 filed a novel coronavirus coverage lawsuit in a New York court on behalf of insureds including "operators of some of the most iconic and legendary restaurants, cafes, and bars in New York City" seeking recovery for "multi-million dollar business income losses and extra expenses" suffered as a direct result of state and municipal novel coronavirus shutdown executive orders and partial reopening executive orders (Abruzzo Docg Inc., et al. v. Acceptance Indemnity Insurance Co., et al., No. 514089/2020, N.Y. Sup., Kings Co.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A Washington, D.C., superior court judge on Aug. 6 rejected restaurant owner insureds' argument that the loss of use of their properties due to the novel coronavirus and related governmental orders constitutes "direct physical loss" under their insurance policies, denying their expedited motion for summary judgment and granting their "all-risk" insurer's cross-motion for summary judgment (Rose's 1, LLC, et al. v. Erie Insurance Exchange, No. 2020 CA 002424 B, D.C. Super.).
LOS ANGELES — A California federal judge on Aug. 4 denied an insured's motion to remand a breach of contract and bad faith lawsuit stemming from an insurer's denial of coverage for business income losses caused by the novel coronavirus because complete diversity of citizenship exists as the Los Angeles health officer was fraudulently joined as a defendant (Pez Seafood DTLA LLC v. The Travelers Indemnity Co., et al., No. 20-4699, C.D. Calif., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 139928).
SAN FRANCISCO — Two prisoners filed a class complaint in a federal court in California on Aug. 1 and moved for a preliminary injunction and class certification three days later, alleging that they have been wrongfully denied economic impact payment (EIP) benefits under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act (Colin Scholl, et al. v. Steven Mnuchin, et al., No. 20-5309, N.D. Calif.).
CHICAGO — An insurer on July 30 filed a declaratory judgment lawsuit disputing coverage for an underlying declaratory and injunctive relief action seeking to order the former owner of a McDonald's franchise to provide a safe working environment in response to the novel coronavirus, arguing that the underlying lawsuit does not seek "damages" to trigger coverage under the policy (Employers Preferred Insurance Company v. Lexi Management LLC, et al., No. 2020CH05203, Ill. Cir., Cook Co.).
CHICAGO — Illinois insureds on July 29 filed four separate nearly identical class action complaints against their automobile insurers in the Cook County, Ill., Circuit Court, Chancery Division, for declaratory relief, violation of Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act (ICFA), common-law fraud, bad faith breach of contract and unjust enrichment, alleging that the premium relief offered by their insurers in response to the novel coronavirus "has been grossly inadequate" and "designed to secure" the insurers "an unearned and unfair windfall" (Dino Anagnos, et al v. Allstate Fire and Casualty Insurance Co., No. 2020 CH0 5164, Peter Kopsaftis, et al. v. Progresive Universal Insurance Co., et al., No. 2020 CH 5162, Holly R. Ridings v. American Family Insurance Company, No. 2020 CH 0516, Roxanne Thomas, et al. v. Geico Casualty Company, No. 2020 CH 05163, Ill. Cir., Cook Co., Chancery Div.).
LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles city attorney on July 7 sued a nursing home in state court for intentionally violating an injunction and violating California's unfair competition law (UCL), alleging that the defendant's "patient dumping" has "harmed and endangered its residents— senior citizens and disabled persons who are among the most vulnerable people in Los Angeles—in the midst of the deadliest public health crisis in modern history" (The People of the State of California v. Lakeview Terrace Skilled Nursing Facility LLC, No. 20STCV25436, Calif. Super., Los Angeles Co.).
SAN FRANCISCO — Two borrowers filed a class action lawsuit July 31 in federal court in California complaining that Wells Fargo & Co. and Wells Fargo Bank N.A. entered them into forbearance agreements on their federally-backed mortgage loans pursuant to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act without their consent (Samara Green, et al. v. Wells Fargo & Co., et al., No. 20-cv-5296, N.D. Calif.).
LUFKIN, Texas — A former employee of a Texas nursing home filed a complaint on July 28 in a federal court in her state, alleging that she was denied pay and then fired in violation of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) after taking approximately a month off to recover from COVID-19, caused by the novel coronavirus (Holly Randall v. Garrison Healthcare, LP, No. 20-165, E.D. Texas).
LOS ANGELES — A pair of cinematographers who participate in a health plan for film and television workers filed a class action in a California federal court on July 16, alleging that the plan administrators violated fiduciary duties of loyalty and impartiality under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act in adjusting the work hours required to receive benefits in response to the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown of the entertainment industry (Greg Endries, et al. v. Board of Directors of the Motion Picture Industry Health Plan, et al., No. 2:20-cv-06347, C.D. Calif.).
HARRISBURG, Pa. — A skilled nursing facility hard hit by COVID-19 failed to obtain Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) approval before giving 205 of 435 residents exposed to the novel coronavirus an off-label drug as an experimental prophylactic treatment and failed to report medication errors and adverse events that occurred during the treatment, the department said in a report issued July 28.
ALAMEDA, Calif. — A California judge denied as moot a motion for mistrial on July 23, after parties to an asbestos case reached a settlement just days after an attorney claimed that confusion regarding trial procedures enacted with an eye toward the novel coronavirus caused him to miss voir dire, according to the docket (Wilgenbusch v. American Biltrite Inc., No. RG19029791, Calif. Super., Alameda Co.).
WHEELING, W.Va. — A consolidated trial group of 38 asbestos cases set for jury selection on July 28 settled that morning, in the wake of the judge urging such an outcome in hopes of avoiding the "dreadful experience" of trying a case in compliance with novel coronavirus protocols, sources told Mealey Publications (In re: Asbestos Personal Injury Litigation, No. 03-C-9600, W.Va. Cir., 1st Cir., Kanawha Co.).
LOS ANGELES — A federal judge in California on July 27 denied an insured's motion to remand its novel coronavirus coverage suit to a California superior court, finding that the insured fraudulently joined Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti (Mark's Engine Company No. 28 Restaurant, LLC v. The Travelers Indemnity Company of Connecticut, et al., No. 20-04423, C.D. Calif., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 132841).
LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (DPH) on July 10 announced that it had closed a Los Angeles garment manufacturer after more than 300 workers had confirmed cases of COVID-19, caused by the novel coronavirus, and four died.
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The company hired by Arkansas to create and maintain the unemployment website for self-employed and gig workers seeking benefits during the novel coronavirus pandemic failed to prevent a data breach, resulting in frozen accounts for those seeking the aid and exposure to identity theft, three individuals allege in their putative class complaint and emergency motion for a temporary restraining order (TRO) filed July 14 in an Arkansas court (Samuel Acker, et al. v. Protech Solutions, Inc., No. 60CV-20-3858, Ark. Cir., Pulaski Co.).
Insureds on July 24 filed two separate federal lawsuits in Maryland and the District of Columbia against The Charter Oak Fire Insurance Co., alleging that the insurer's "arbitrary and wrongful denial of insurance benefits" arising from the novel coronavirus leaves them "financially insecure and threatens the survival" of one or more of their collective 14 restaurants that are covered under their policies (RW Restaurant Group LLC, et al. v. The Charter Oak Fire Insurance Company, No. 20-02161, D. Md.; FT DC, LLC, et al. v. The Charter Oak Fire Insurance Company, No. 20-02026, D. D.C.).
NEW YORK — "New York State's largest health care provider and private employer" filed suit in a New York court on July 24, alleging that its health care premises pollution liability insurer's denial of coverage for its losses arising from the novel coronavirus pandemic has forced it "to fight a two-front war, both against the worst public health crisis the world has seen in generations, but also to obtain coverage to which it is clearly entitled" (Northwell Health Inc. v. Illinois Union Insurance Company, N.Y. Sup., New York Co.).