For the week of May 4, 2020
Written By Michael Eizenga, Keely Cameron, and Tim Heneghan
As the novel coronavirus pandemic stretches into May, plaintiffs' lawyers across North America continue to initiate COVID-19 related class actions. While the attention on practices surrounding the economy's shutdown continues, we are seeing more focus on claims related to management of the outbreak itself. Airlines, cruise lines, operators of long-term care homes and food manufacturers represent some of the industries facing a broad array of claims.
Negligence and Breach of Contract Actions
- In Ontario, a class action has been filed against several non-domestic airlines seeking full refunds for flights that were cancelled as a result of COVID-19. The plaintiff, a resident of Ontario, bought flights through TAP Portugal.The flights were cancelled as a result of the pandemic and he was provided with vouchers rather than refunds. The claim alleges that the defendants' contracts require them to provide refunds when cancellation is caused by an event beyond their control. The claim is like other claims already filed in the United States and Canada against the airline industry, as detailed in our previous posts.
- Also in Ontario, a class action has been filed against Revera Inc., operators of multiple long-term care facilities in the province. The representative plaintiffs both lost elderly mothers after the women contracted COVID-19 while staying in a Revera-owned facility. The claim alleges that Revera's facilities lacked proper sanitation protocols and that staff failed to adequately test residents for COVID-19.
- In Alberta, a possible class action is being investigated against Cargill Meat Solutions for its alleged mishandling of a COVID-19 outbreak at their High River processing plant. Over 900 of the plant's employees have tested positive for COVID-19, and at least one employee has died. The class action comes in the wake of a Calgary Herald editorial which noted that the outbreak at the High River plant was the "largest workplace COVID-19 outbreak in North America".
- In New York, a federal securities class action has been launched against SCWorx Corp. after the healthcare services company claimed to receive a purchase order for two million COVID-19 rapid testing kits. The company's share price surged after the announcement, only to nosedive after a subsequent report which called the purchase order into question and derided the deal as "completely bogus". The claim alleges that the company's ostensible supplier was a known fraudster incapable of fulfilling the announced orders. The SEC then halted trading of the company's stock.
- In Florida, a class action has been filed against Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, Ltd., on behalf of crew members that worked aboard the company's ships. The claim alleges that Royal Caribbean failed to follow "even the most basic safety precautions" after discovering that COVID-19 either was or was likely to be present aboard its ships. The claim also alleges that Royal Caribbean threw a staff party on St. Patrick's Day with over 1,000 crew members in attendance, four days after the company's suspension of cruise operations for passengers.
Actions Relating to Government Relief Programs
- In Washington, D.C., a collection of federal student loan borrowers whose wages have been garnished during the pandemic have filed a class action against the United States Department of Education and its Secretary, Betsy DeVos. The plaintiffs seek an injunction barring the Department from continuing to garnish wages, and a declaration that the Department's conduct violates the CARES Act, the federal COVID-19 relief law, which requires the Department to suspend all involuntary collection of defaulted federal loans until September 30, 2020.
Bennett Jones is committed to protecting the rights of its clients during these unprecedented times. If you have any questions about the information in this article, please contact a member of the Bennett Jones Class Action Litigation group. In addition, please visit our COVID-19 Resource Centre for other COVID-19-related materials.
More in this Series
- COVID-19 Class Actions Weekly Round-Up - For the week of June 1
- COVID-19 Class Actions Weekly Round-Up - For the week of May 25
- COVID-19 Class Actions Weekly Round-Up - For the week of May 18
- COVID-19 Class Actions Weekly Round-Up - For the week of May 11
- COVID-19 Class Actions Weekly Round-Up - For the week of April 27
- COVID-19 Class Actions Weekly Round-Up - For the week of April 20
- COVID-19 Class Actions Weekly Round-Up - For the week of April 13
- COVID-19 Class Actions Weekly Round-Up - For the week of April 6
- COVID-19 Class Actions Weekly Round-Up - For the week of March 30