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Nuisance Lawsuits Emerge as a New Coronavirus Threat

| Tort Reform & Legal Climate

As our state and nation continue to grapple with COVID-19, a new menace is emerging from this pandemic – nuisance lawsuits that threaten to prolong the economic challenges stemming from the virus. Recently, USA Today reported that the novel coronavirus has already unleashed a tidal wave of lawsuits aimed at a variety of targets, from businesses and government organizations to the doctors and nurses fighting this virus on the front lines.

“This early litigation is really, from our vantage point, the tip of the iceberg,” said Harold Kim, president of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform, in speaking to USA Today. “The level of litigation could really go in so many different directions.”

As Mr. Kim notes, these early lawsuits only hint at the full scope of frivolity that’s likely to flood our legal system as we fight off this deadly virus, which will only hamper our ability to recover quickly from its effects. Currently, the U.S. Chamber’s Litigation Center and Institute for Legal Reform is tracking these early trends in anticipation of the coming onslaught from plaintiffs’ lawyers.

Recently, Ray Starling, NC Chamber General Counsel and president of the NC Chamber Legal Institute, voiced our concerns about this alarming trend to legislators on the General Assembly’s House Select Committee on COVID-19. Rest assured that our team is continuing to monitor this situation to determine the best response to protect North Carolina businesses from the threat of frivolous lawsuits stemming from the coronavirus.

Ray’s presentation to the House Select Committee on COVID-19 as well as an audio recording of that meeting have been made available on the General Assembly’s website (note that Ray’s comments begin after the 1:58 mark on the recording). We will continue to update you on this issue as it evolves.