Litigation related to COVID-19 is heating up on many fronts. As the crisis enters its eighth month, lawsuits are spreading across different industries and areas of the law. With the pandemic’s devastating impact on the economy and its sweeping disruption to business and consumer activity, it’s likely the current litigation activity is just a taste of things to come.
Luxury goods conglomerate LVMH used COVID-19 as the excuse to pull out of its $16.2 billion deal to acquire Tiffany & Company. The LVMH Board recommended that the company defer the acquisition, which would have been the largest deal ever in the luxury goods market, until after January 6, 2021, which was outside the acquisition date in the merger agreement. Tiffany filed a lawsuit this month against LVMH alleging breach of merger obligations. The battle is one of the most high-profile examples of deals that have fallen apart in the wake of the pandemic’s grand-scale destruction of the retail industry.
Nursing home litigation, including several class actions, for virus-related deaths are being filed across the country. Many nursing home facilities failed to follow federal laws, regulations and guidelines in handling the outbreak, in addition to other negligent conduct. More than half of the states, including New York, have enacted some form of liability protection for nursing homes, but these safeguards have limits, including exceptions for gross negligence and intentional or reckless misconduct. In New York, which was hit early and hard by the virus, several lawsuits have been filed against nursing homes, with plaintiffs mostly alleging gross negligence, citing lack of adequate PPE and lack of adequate training in infection control.
Mexican boxing star Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez is suing promoter Golden Boy Promotions, LLC and its CEO, Oscar De La Hoya, along with streaming service DAZN for breach of contract. According to the terms of the contract, which was touted as the largest boxing contract in history when it was signed in October 2018, Alvarez was promised $365 million for 11 fights. He is suing for the more than $280 million that he was due to earn from the eight fights that still remain. After Alvarez’s scheduled May fight was put on hold because of the pandemic, his talks with DAZN and Golden Boy about an alternative bout in the fall broke down when the boxer was offered substantially less than his contractual guarantee, according to the lawsuit.
A class action securities lawsuit representing Wells Fargo shareholders was filed in June against the bank and some of its executives. The suit alleges that the company made misrepresentations to shareholders concerning the bank’s Paycheck Protection Program practices. On April 5, Wells Fargo announced it would distribute $10 billion to small business customers through the PPP program, a government-backed program to help small businesses pay their employees and other bills during the pandemic. On May 5, the bank filed its quarterly report, disclosing that multiple small businesses had filed lawsuits against it over PPP issues and that the bank had received inquiries from governmental agencies about its PPP program. The company’s share price fell more than 6 percent after the news, according to the suit, which alleges the defendants violated the Securities Exchange Act.
Refusal to Extend Coverage
The producers of the heist movie “Hypnotic” featuring Ben Affleck are suing Chubb National for refusing to extend existing production coverage beyond the policy’s expiration date of October 28, 2020. Production on the film, backed by Solstice Studios and Studio 8, was scheduled to begin in April but was halted by the pandemic. Hoosegow Productions purchased a policy from Chubb National valued at $58 million that stipulated it would be paid out if Affleck or Director Robert Rodriguez became ill, died, or otherwise became unavailable. The case will be watched closely as countless delayed productions grapple with their own insurance issues.
If your insurance company has denied or is challenging your claim for a COVID-19-related or other reason, contact us today. We have the experience and tenacity to make sure insurance companies keep the promises they made to you and your business.
Evan S. Schwartz
Founder of Schwartz, Conroy & Hack