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While the Worldwide COVID-19 pandemic has certainly put a damper on U.S. economic activity, some folks in the legal profession are going to profit from it. After all, litigators gotta litigate and the viral contagion has opened up numerous avenues upon which to lodge a legal complaint in search of recompense. In fact, as of July 30, 3,901 COVID-19-related lawsuits have been filed in state and federal courts. Not only do up to 3,901 litigating law firms potentially benefit from this action, but so do 3,901 or so defending law firms. And, of course, those law firms need a variety of support services—hello ediscovery practitioners.

COVID-19 Litigation By State

As one of the country’s most litigious states, I expected that California would lead the nation in COVID-19 lawsuits. However, that dubious honor is currently held by New York with 828 complaints to date. California comes in second with 520, followed by Florida with 307. Given that New York suffered the most in the early days of the pandemic, its high numbers probably shouldn’t be a surprise. Now that California is taking a COVID-19 beating, its COVID-19 litigation numbers will inevitably rise—as will the numbers in Florida and Texas (currently ranked fourth with 271). Six ranked New Jersey’s COVID-19 litigation numbers are a surprise on the relevant low side—172—as it is also considered one of the nation’s most litigious states.

The fewest complaints have been filed in Wyoming and South Dakota, with one each, followed by West Virginia, with two; and Vermont and North Dakota, with three. Eleven lawsuits have been filed against foreign countries and/or non-governmental organizations, with eight filed against the People’s Republic of China. 

Nature of COVID-19 Litigation

The COVID-19-related lawsuits are broken down into 18 categories, many of which also include a variety of subcategories. Based on numbers, insurance companies appear to be the biggest villains, as 954 lawsuits are listed under the insurance category. The “Civil Rights” category, which also comes with the most subcategories, has the second highest number, at 696. Of these 251 are related to business closure, stay-at-home orders, and group-gathering bans. 

“Habeas/ Confinement conditions/Prisoner and Detainee Petitions” has the third highest number, at 591. Frankly, I’m surprised this number is not far higher given that states across the country have been releasing prison inmates in droves due to the pandemic. 

The “Health/Medical” field appears to be getting off lightly thus far, as only 71 cases have been filed. Only six are included in the malpractice subcategory, while 39 are for wrongful death and 24 listed as “other.”   

Whatever the category and/or subcategory, by looking through them one can easily start to get a sense of how COVID-19 could lead to the rise in such complaints. And we’re just getting started.   

You Too Can Keep Track of COVID-19 Litigation

As we’re apparently still in the early days of this pandemic, these numbers are undoubtedly going to continue to rise—significantly. If you’d like to track these rising numbers—kind of like tracking U.S. and World COVID-19 numbers—you can thank the law firm of Hunton Andrews Kurth for putting together a handy “COVID-19 Complaint Tracker.” As its part of the firm’s attorney advertising program, they’ll appreciate every visit as they help uptick the company’s SEO results.   

About the Author:

M.J. Moye

M.J. Moye

M.J. Moye is a demographics researcher and freelance writer. His interest in law was spurred by covering two Supreme Court cases and other legal issues during his stint as a Washington, DC journalist. In addition to Now Discovery, he currently provides on-call writing services to several lawyers. When not counting people or writing, he spends his time sailing the beautiful waters of Nova Scotia.

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