Elon Musk is “not messing around,” vowing to sue Alameda County, California, where his main plant is headquartered. Texas and Nevada are aggressively angling to snatch his business. A boycott is threatened against Costco over the company’s nationwide mandatory mask policy. Low tax states have relaxed lockdowns earlier than other states and are recruiting for corporate headquarters post-pandemic. Apparently, we aren’t all in this together.
Nursing homes, insurance companies, private schools, colleges and universities, and, of course, cruise ship lines, among other industries, are and will be significant litigation targets in a post-pandemic world. Cruise ships and nursing homes are and will be accused of not being careful enough while Costco, the state of California and other defendants will be accused of being too careful. Universities and insurance companies are and will be sued for not providing what their buyers thought they were purchasing. What’s a company (or a state) to do?
There’s an old adage in our business, “Crisis abhors a vacuum.” While clear federal leadership would not have necessarily eliminated many of these lawsuits, the absence of clear guidelines has only added to the confusion. Most states that have reopened to some degree are not following federal guidelines. Confusion reigns and trust abates even further. And we haven’t begun to consider what happens if Covid-19 morphs into an even more lethal disease thanks to restaurants, beaches or meat packing plants relaxing their guidelines too soon.
We are going to see a rise in lawsuits against many defendants. We try and get at a few of these industries, starting with the cruise ship industry and expanding to the insurance industry next. What should cruise ship companies be considering now and what should they be doing to reduce liability and increase trust?
Published May 12, 2020.