Will Idaho Be Deluged with COVID-19 Lawsuits?

In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, will Kootenai County and other Idaho counties see a flood of litigation stemming from physical or economic harm caused by the virus?

In the case of Archer v. Carnival Corporation et al, filed in the Northern District of California, passengers of the cruise ship Grand Princess, who had to be quarantined at an Air Force base just north of San Francisco, have filed a $5 million class action against the cruise line, alleging that the ship owner was aware of the potential danger to passengers because a sister ship, the Diamond Princess, had two passengers die of the virus before the Grand Princess set sail. The lawsuit also alleges that the ship delayed in imposing cabin quarantine and failed to take necessary sanitation procedures.

Idaho law concerning the duties to customers was stated long ago by the Idaho Supreme Court in the case of Hall v Boise Payette Lumber Co., where the Court held:

“To one who enters a place of business under the proprietor’s implied invitation to the public for purposes of dealing with him in any line of business there conducted, the proprietor owes a duty of maintaining the premises in a reasonably safe condition and of exercising reasonable care in protecting him from injury.”Utilizing this legal principle, one could envision the following cases being filed in Idaho:

Utilizing this legal principle, one could envision the following lawsuits being filed in Idaho:

  • A restaurant patron sues the restaurant because she contracted the disease because the restaurant tables did not conform to the required 6 foot distancing rule.
  • A parent sues a school district because their child contracted the disease because the children were allowed to play sports in close contact with each other.
  • The adult children of nursing home residents sue after their elderly parents die from the virus because the nursing home failed to test and segregate the residents of the nursing home.

As you can imagine, the possibilities are endless. Right now, most Idaho residents are worried about when they can return to their job and/or business to resume life-as-normal. But the legal fallout from this virus may be litigated well into 2021 or even beyond.

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