COVID-19 class actions: Cautionary reminders from south of the border | Briefing

Canadian companies have faced an unprecedented last few months in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent measures to contain its spread. As the pandemic’s impacts continue to reverberate, the first round of COVID-related litigation has begun.

Several COVID-related class actions have already been launched in Canada, including:

Class actions against long-term care facilities in both Ontario and Québec by family members of residents who contracted COVID-19;

A national class action by insurance policyholders against several indemnity insurers for refusing to pay claims for losses arising from COVID-19 under business interruption policies; and

Multiple class actions against domestic and international airlines for breach of contract due to the refusal to refund costs for cancelled flights.

As the U.S. often serves as a roadmap for Canadian litigation, it is also helpful to be mindful of developments south of the border when assessing possible future litigation trends and risk exposure. Indeed, there have been over 150 class actions filed to date in the U.S. dealing with some aspect of the current pandemic, and it would be reasonable to assume that there may be potential spill-over into Canadian jurisdictions as similar issues are raised by Canadian litigants.

Among those filed to date, the following U.S. proceedings serve as a cautionary reminder to Canadian companies of the litigation risk that can arise in the context of the current crisis.

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