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Judges Weigh Bigger Rooms, Cleaner Mics as Jury Trials Restart

May 26, 2020, 5:55 PM

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

  • RESTARTING TRIALS: New courtroom dynamics could alter non-verbal cues, skew jury demographics, and limit communication between attorneys. Even so, some district court judges have signaled an openness to holding in-person civil jury trials in June or July, following an extended break because of the pandemic. Others are eyeing a return in late summer or early fall.
  • SURGE IN LITIGATION FUNDING: Litigation finance firm Parabellum Capital has raised a new fund with commitments exceeding $450 million ahead of a potential torrent of coronavirus-related lawsuits, new proof that betting on court battles remains popular with investors despite the current crisis.
  • 65 AND UP: Older workers, among the most vulnerable to the deadly consequences of the coronavirus, face a sobering choice: Return to work and risk exposure, or refuse and face potential retaliation. Return-to-work plans may mean a spike in age discrimination claims, employment attorneys and academics say.

What to Watch

The economic fallout of the crisis has reached America’s top grossing law firms. In response, many firms have acted quickly to protect their bottom line by instituting pay cuts and reducing partner draws; some have laid off or furloughed staff. In this video, Bloomberg Law’s Meghan Tribe and legal industry experts assess the impact on Big Law: what might happen if the crisis lingers and whether any law firms are in danger of collapsing.

Industry experts featured include Michelle Fivel of Major, Lindsey & Africa, David Lat of Lateral Link, Bruce MacEwen of Adam Smith, Esq., Naz Vahid of Citi Private Bank, and Kent Zimmermann of Zeughauser Group.

Editor’s Top Picks

High Court Won’t Block Order to Move Inmates Threatened by Virus
The U.S. Supreme Court left in force a judge’s order that could require federal prison officials to move hundreds of inmates out of an Ohio facility where at least nine people have died from the coronavirus.

Massive Court Backlogs Put UBS, Theranos, Terror Cases in Limbo
Courts reopening around the globe are confronting a backlog of thousands of cases, including UBS Group AG’s $4.9 billion tax-evasion penalty, former Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes’s alleged fraud and even the 2016 Brussels terrorist attacks that killed 32 people.

Xenia Sues Kimpton Hotels Buyer for Backing Out Over Coronavirus
Xenia Hotels & Resorts Inc. sued a private Singaporean holding company in Delaware, claiming it owes $20 million for backing out of a $483 million deal to acquire seven Kimpton Hotel locations temporarily shuttered by the pandemic.

Uber Drivers Seek Unemployment Benefits or Loans. Few Get Both
Deciphering the rules around the government’s financial-assistance programs is a widespread challenge, and ride-hailing drivers face a particularly complicated route.

Need for Stimulus or Relief Will Shape Congress’ Next Virus Bill
There is tension over whether the next relief package should aim to provide more aid or stimulate a reopening economy. That tension is evident in two of the key areas of disagreement: whether unemployment benefits and further federal aid to states should be extended in the next bill.

‘Digital Deserts’ Send Doctors Out on House Calls to Fight Virus
Rural Washington state doctor Peter Rutherford is making house calls during the outbreak, reviving an antiquated option for patients without the high-speed internet connections necessary for remote treatment.

Pandemic, Accounting Change Trigger Bad Debt Boosts at Telecoms
The unfolding recession and worries that customers will fall behind on their cell phone and cable TV bills would have roiled bad debt expense in normal times. But new accounting ups the ante for telecom companies.

Coronavirus Adds to Health Risks of Ailing 9/11 Responders
The 9/11 emergency medical responders, police officers, and firefighters who breathed toxic dust from the World Trade Center collapse now have an elevated risk from coronavirus.

INSIGHT: Litigation Finance Could Be a Lifeline During Pandemic
The recession is hitting the legal industry hard, and firms are bracing for furloughs, layoffs, hiring freezes, and other adverse economic impacts. Eva Shang and Robbie Li of litigation funding firm Legalist say litigation finance can provide unique and critical support for the industry.

INSIGHT: DOJ Ramps Up Crypto, FCA Enforcement Efforts During Covid-19
Top Justice Department enforcement trends have shifted since the arrival of the pandemic to focus on frauds involving testing, cryptocurrency, and False Claims Act violations, Baker McKenzie attorneys write.

Click here for updates on how federal courts are operating during the pandemic.

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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