Coronavirus Outbreak

Empty Dorm Rooms Spawn Dozens of Suits

June 4, 2020, 5:54 PM

Here are the day’s top coronavirus stories from the team at Bloomberg Law:

  • TUITION REFUNDS: As students moved to online learning from their homes, they wondered what would happen to the money they paid for dorm rooms that now sit empty. Then dozens of lawsuits sprang up on behalf of students who hadn’t received a refund for the room and board fees—and sometimes tuition—they’d paid to colleges.
  • PUBLIC NUISANCES: A lawsuit against McDonald’s Corp. will be an early test of whether workers can use a longstanding legal doctrine against public nuisances to force employers to keep them safe from the coronavirus. Those types of claims have been brought against companies for environmental pollution, lead paint, the opioid crisis, and other alleged harms.
  • JOBLESS CLAIMS: As business reopenings picked up nationwide, Americans filed nearly 2 million applications for unemployment benefits last week, reflecting a slowing—though far from a halt—in job losses. Still, layoffs are continuing and hitting the higher-wage workers and supervisors that escaped the initial wave of layoffs.

Editor’s Top Picks

Automation, Bingo, Zoom: Inside a Virtual Big Law Summer Program
Forget awkwardly lingering outside your office, summer associates are about to start showing up on your video calls. Summer is here, and with many Big Law firms still in work from home mode, their law student interns are about to be too.

Virus Liability Shields Move Ahead in Louisiana, Other States
Louisiana is the latest in a small but growing number of states advancing plans to shield businesses from lawsuits by employees or customers who contract Covid-19 in the absence of federal liability protection.

Amazon Workers Sue Over Virus Brought Home from Warehouse
A group of Amazon.com Inc. warehouse employees sued the online retail giant, claiming its working conditions put not only them at risk of contracting the coronavirus but also their family members, including one who died.

Trump Expected to Use Covid-19 ‘Emergency’ to Speed Up Projects
President Donald Trump is scheduled to sign an executive order Thursday calling on federal agencies to use emergency powers to “accelerate” infrastructure projects on federal lands as a response to the pandemic, senior administration officials said.

Planned Parenthood Wants Minnesota Clinic’s Pandemic Suit Tossed
A Minnesota health-care clinic’s lawsuit over the state’s failure to close abortion providers during the outbreak, while enforcing an emergency order prohibiting elective surgeries against other providers, must be dismissed, Planned Parenthood told a federal court.

Wall Street Warning to Corporate America: Get Cash While You Can
Bankers have a message for America’s debt-laden companies: raise money now, because things could get a lot worse. The gradual reopening of businesses after months-long shutdowns and a pick up in manufacturing activity have given investors reason for optimism. But underwriters who cater to heavily indebted corporations are offering their clients a bleak preview of what may lie ahead.

Chapter 11 Filings Jump in May With Big Spike Still to Come
The number of companies that filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the U.S. jumped by 48% in May compared to the same month last year and increased by 29% since April 2020, according to data compiled by Epiq Systems Inc.

Telehealth Pay Gaps Loom After Virus When State Orders Expire
Chatting with physicians online surged during Covid-19 to keep patients and doctors from potentially exposing themselves and others to the coronavirus. Major health-care commercial insurers typically cover telehealth, but these virtual services don’t always pay providers at the same rate as in-person care.

U.S. Economy Too Fragile for Congress to Remove Income Support
After approving the most generous unemployment benefits in U.S. history to help counter the coronavirus, Congress is in a bind over what to do when they expire at the end of next month.

California Fairgrounds Could be Used to Vet Prospective Jurors
Questioning potential jurors at county fairgrounds or concert venues, fewer lawyers, and more hand sanitizer for security staff are among suggestions California courts may consider as the state reopens 58 trial courts closed for months due to the outbreak.

INSIGHT: Thoughtful Return-to-Work Plans Will Cut Discrimination Risk
As states start to reopen, employers risk discrimination claims when determining who should return and when. Epstein Becker Green attorneys say employers should take the time to create a solid and comprehensive return-to-work plan, and give tips on recall plans, age-based decisions, gender considerations, and ADA compliance.

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Editor’s Note: The Bloomberg Law news team has been closely covering the legal, regulatory, business, and tax implications of the coronavirus pandemic. This daily email highlights the top stories of the day, across practice areas. To unsubscribe, please adjust your Bloomberg Law newsletter settings. For assistance, contact our help desk at 888-560-2529 or help@bloomberglaw.com.

To contact the reporter on this story: Molly Ward in Washington at mward@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Meghashyam Mali at mmali@bloombergindustry.com

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