The CORONAVIRUS and The LAW
Each of us sits in true bewilderment as to not just the virus, but the reaction to the virus called Corona. But what do you do legally in response? Are you or your business concerned about liability from the virus and bombarding customers with the disclaimer about “wiping everything down” emails or are you sending employees home? Is there a correct or proper response?
Public health officials said the public should prepare for some “significant disruption” from the novel coronavirus and take reasonable precautions against COVID-19.
Some large employers and big law firms already have suspended travel for nonessential meetings and conferences. So what further steps can U.S. employers and their in-house take now to prepare to minimize legal or financial exposure here?
Employers and their counsel need to develop business continuity plans similar to those for natural disasters such as hurricanes and other major disruptions, in order to properly protect clients and customers and not NEGLIGENTLY expose individuals.
Is this a Force Majeure event under contract and insurance policies?
Affected parties should consider whether their contracts make provision for force majeure clauses and whether the outbreak falls within the protection offered by the relevant clause. Force majeure events are, broadly speaking, unexpected circumstances outside of a contracting party’s reasonable control that, having arisen, prevent it from performing its contractual obligations.
Release from performance as a result of force majeure is not recognized as a standalone principle of English common law. It is therefore a matter for parties to deal with expressly in their contracts and the protection afforded by the clause will depend on the precise drafting. In the event of a dispute as to the scope of the clause, the English courts will apply the usual principles of contractual interpretation.
In the construction context, the internationally used FIDIC Conditions of Contracts define “Force Majeure” as an exceptional event or circumstance which is beyond the control of the party affected and which the party affected could neither have foreseen or provided against before entering into the construction contract nor avoided once it had arisen. The event must also not be the fault of the other party.
Just do not overreact
Denmark’s parliament on Thursday night unanimously passed an emergency coronavirus law which gives health authorities powers to force testing, treatment and quarantine with the backing of the police force.
The far-reaching new law will remain in force until March 2021, when it will expire under a sunset clause.
Even those in Denmark are concerned with a law that allows police enforced health action up and until one year from now. Jens Elo Rytter, law professor at Copenhagen University, said the measures were unlike anything passed in the last 75 years “It is certainly the most extreme since the Second World War,” he told the Jyllands-Posten newspaper. “There have been some powerful encroachments in various terror packages. But this goes further.”
Most of all don’t gauge and try to capitalize on the suffering for your own gain
The Berman Law Group filed a class action federal lawsuit against the People’s Republic of China and several other Chinese government entities, alleging they mishandled the outbreak of COVID-19.
According to the law group, the lawsuit accuses the Chinese government of failing to contain the virus and allowing it to spread globally, causing it to become a costly global pandemic.
The irony is that none of those five plaintiffs have the virus, but who say they were adversely impacted by the outbreak.
The plaintiffs are “virtually certain to suffer physical illness or death, as well as emotional distress, and its physical manifestations, from the effects of the outbreak, and other damages,” according to the complaint.
The suit alleges that the Chinese government “knew that COVID-19 was dangerous and capable of causing a pandemic, yet slowly acted, proverbially put their head in the sand, and/or covered it up for their own economic self-interest.”
Among other claims, the suit is alleging negligence on the part of the Chinese government and is requesting a jury trial.
In a 20-page civil complaint filed in a South Florida federal court, the plaintiffs reference unconfirmed theories about the virus’ origin, including a theory that it emerged from a Chinese microbiology lab near Wuhan.
Basically we want to be able to make money by suing before anyone else, so even though we don’t have clients actually impacted and we don’t know really where or what the negligence is we are going to try to make some money on this devastation.
Please act courteously, cautiously, and optimistically. Lets take care of our neighbors and our community. Should Goldfinch Winslow Law Firm be able to help you in any way please let us know.