Covid Class Action Lawsuits in Los Angeles
Covid-19 Class Action Lawsuits
Covid hit Los Angeles, the State of California, the nation, and the world in 2020, and things haven't been quite the same since. While we knew little about the disease, to begin with, we did know that it was highly contagious, that it ultimately reached pandemic proportions, and that we all had to lay low, social distance, and wear masks for a good long time. And it was incredibly frightening for many people.
In those first confusing months and years, not everyone took the precautions they should have in order to protect the safety of others within the context of Covid, and there is a wide range of COVID-19 class action lawsuits in the works that testify to this fact. When a party like your employer asks you to come into the office, it can be very difficult to say no. And when such an entity makes unsafe choices on your behalf, it can prove devastating to you personally. If you or someone you love was harmed – or worse – by an employer, school, business, or another entity’s negligence in relation to Covid, an experienced Los Angeles Covid attorney is standing by to help.
What are Class Action Lawsuits?
Many people are confused by what exactly class action lawsuits are, and that’s understandable – they are complex, but understanding the basics can help. A class action lawsuit is a procedural tool that allows one or more parties (called the plaintiffs) to file a lawsuit on behalf of a larger group (or class) against the offending party (defendant) in question.
Class action lawsuits allow the legal system to handle what would otherwise almost certainly be an overwhelming flow of lawsuits against the same defendant. Class action lawsuits allow a class of plaintiffs – those who have been harmed in the same way by the defendant – to bring one lawsuit under just one (or several) names. In class action lawsuits, every member of the plaintiff class has an identical interest in the wrong that’s been alleged. Imagining how this might apply to Covid-related situations is not a huge leap. For example, an employer who forced employees to work mask-free in cramped quarters with poor ventilation that led to a rash of serious Covid cases could face a compelling class action Covid lawsuit at a later date.
Covid in California
First Covid Case
In late January of 2020, a man who had traveled to Wuhan, China – ground zero for the infectious disease – tested positive for Covid in Orange County. This brought the number of confirmed cases in the country to three.
Global Health Emergency
On January 6, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) called Covid a global health emergency. At that point, 170 people had died, and nearly 8,000 had been infected with Covid (mostly in China).
Early Covid Death
An elderly man died in Placer County in early March of 2020, and health officials ruled it a Covid death. Up to this point, COVID-19 had only appeared in a few West Coast cases. The elderly man had returned from a cruise ship in mid-February that made four stops, including Mexico. After this death, the governor declared a state of emergency, and in less than two weeks, schools were closed, and the state saw its first stay-at-home orders. It turned out, however, that the first person to die of Covid in America was in Santa Clara, California, on February 6, 2020, but this did not become known until late in April of that year. Along the way, many California cities declared emergencies, canceled events, and addressed the issue of school closings.
Covid Becomes a Pandemic
On March 11, WHO declared COVID a pandemic, and the governor of California recommended that gatherings not exceed 250 people. On March 13, a national emergency was declared, and millions of California children were told not to return to school on Monday. On March 19, a statewide order requiring residents to shelter in place was issued. On March 22, the President of the United States declared California a major disaster. From here, things only became more complicated – with many death records set along the way, many protests against restrictions, many outright denials of restrictions, and much more.
A prime example of how the law and Covid are colliding is the See’s Candies, Inc. v. Ek case. In this case, an appellate court in California ruled that an employee of See’s Candies – who was infected by Covid at work and then passed it to her husband (who died from the disease) – was not barred from bringing a wrongful death claim against See’s on behalf of her husband (who was not an employee of the company). It’s confusing, and it does not mean that the man’s wife will prevail with her case, but this appellate ruling does demonstrate that the law is open to considering unique liability concerns as they relate to the Covid pandemic. In this woman’s wrongful death case, she claims that a group of employees at the candy factory became infected with Covid due to their employer’s lax reaction to the disease – and the lack of social distancing employed.
While See’s Candies argued that the case should be barred due to its third-party nature (someone who did not work for them was injured collaterally), the appellate court rejected their argument and ruled that if a third party’s injuries are logically and legally independent of any employee’s injuries and remain a result of the employer’s negligence, the third party is not legally barred from suing.
Covid-19 Statistics for the state of California
According to the California for All website, all the following statistics apply to Covid in California:
Who Is Entitled to Benefits from a Class Action Suit?
Generally, anyone who is included in the class bringing the class action suit is entitled to benefit. Class action suits allow people who have been harmed by a more powerful entity’s negligence to seek the benefits to which they are entitled by the law. These group claims allow people who have been similarly harmed by the same defendant to join forces and gain strength in numbers for the entire group of people. Very often, individual claimants simply do not have the resources or the ability to file their own claims, but when they join together as one class – represented by a dedicated attorney or attorneys – they are far better equipped to seek the justice to which they are entitled (generally against a corporation, company, or business with a much greater reach than any of the claimants have individually).
Common Categories of Class Action Suits
While class action suits are unique and come in many different forms, they often fall into the following classifications:
- Class action suits related to defective medications
- Class action suits related to illegal business practices
- Class action suits related to breaches of contract
- Class action suits related to false advertising
- Class action suits related to employee discrimination
Covid-19 class action lawsuits could fit in several of these classifications – and likely many others besides. This is brand new territory, but it’s clear that large numbers of people have been harmed by the negligence of others who imposed rules upon them in relation to Covid, and this is prime class action lawsuit territory.
The Requirements of a Class Action Lawsuit
In order for a lawsuit to make it a class action lawsuit, it must meet all the following requirements:
- Numerosity – Numerosity is a fancy word that means the number of people participating in the class action suit is sufficient to render it impractical for separate plaintiffs to bring individual suits
- Commonality – Commonality means that the members of the class share common legal issues and facts Typicality – Typicality means that the claims made by the members of the class are typical of the class itself
- Adequacy – Adequacy means that the named plaintiff is capable of representing the rest of the class members and of advocating on behalf of their interests
From here, the court must make one of the following findings in order to certify a class action lawsuit:
- If the court required the individuals who make up the class to pursue separate lawsuits, it could lead to inconsistent rulings – or an earlier claim could adversely affect a claim that attempts to follow.
- The defendant in the class action lawsuit acted in a manner that affected every member of the class, and as a result, the court is able (if ultimately deemed legally appropriate) to grant relief to them as a group.
- The questions of law or the facts in the class action lawsuit outweigh the claim of any individual class member, which makes a class action suit the preferred legal mechanism for resolving the legal dispute.
The Benefits of Class Action Suits
There are a variety of important benefits associated with bringing class action suits, including:
- The cost of bringing a class action suit is far less than it would be for each claimant to bring a case of his or her own. In class action suits, all the claimants split the legal costs, and there is generally a lead plaintiff whose name is on the case and a lead lawyer guiding the matter forward.
- Covid-19 lawyers involved in Covid-19 lawsuits generally work on contingency, which means that none of the members of your class will owe anything unless a settlement is reached or a court award is received (at which point the attorney/attorneys will be paid a prearranged percentage).
- A primary benefit of being part of a class action suit is that it allows individual citizens to help hold large corporations, businesses, and other entities in check. Without class action lawsuits, there would be no way for the little guys to make a dent or have their voices heard. When the people speak through class action suits, however, corporate giants tend to listen.
If your employer, your children’s school – or another business entity – caused you or your loved one to be harmed by Covid, you have the right to join a class action suit against the negligent party (if you meet the requirements for that class). Depending upon the situation, you may also have the right to bring your own class action suit – that you populate with other members of your class (whatever that may be). The fact is that Covid was nightmarish, and if a business goliath made it more so – and harmed you in the process – you should not take it lying down. You have legal rights that are well worth protecting, and a Covid class action lawsuit may be the best legal tool at your disposal.