Legal Roundup: Zoom User Sues Over Data Sharing, COVID-19 Income Loss Lawsuits and More

The latest court decisions impacting risk management and the insurance industry.
By: | April 4, 2020

Chicago Hospitality Groups Latest to Sue Insurers For COVID-19 Income Loss

The case: Six bar and restaurant groups in Chicago have sued Society Insurance after COVID-19 business interruption claims were denied.

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“The plaintiffs are suing for breach of contract, and 60 percent of whatever amount the jury would determine they’re entitled to recover from the insurance company. The lawsuit also asks for an additional $60,000 per plaintiff,” according to Eater.

Society Insurance told the publication it doesn’t comment on ongoing litigation and looks forward to a favorable resolution in the near future.

Scorecard: The case has just recently been filed and is in its early stages. In most cases, business interruption is tied to property insurance, and only takes effect if there is physical property damage. 

Takeaway: The restaurant groups join businesses across the country suing insurers over virus exclusions to business interruption policies. Meanwhile, political pressure is mounting.

Lawmakers in at least three states “have proposed legislation to force insurers to pay billions of dollars for business losses tied to government-ordered shutdowns,” according to the Wall Street Journal.

In some instances, insurers would pay claimants then receive reimbursements from the government. Meanwhile, insurers are accusing lawmakers of changing the rules during the game.

Zoom User Sues Over Facebook Data Sharing

The case: If your in-person meetings have suddenly been moved to video chat service Zoom, you’re not alone. Zoom usage (and its stock price) has soared during the coronavirus pandemic, but the company is facing scrutiny about its handling of data.

One user sued the company, claiming it passes data to third parties like Facebook without properly notifying users. “The person alleged that Zoom didn’t safeguard the personal information of the increasing millions of users of its app and video conferencing platform,” according to Business Insider.

The case stems from a report in Motherboard claiming that Zoom sends analytics to Facebook even if the user doesn’t have a Facebook account — and never explicitly told users it was doing it. Zoom later removed code from its iOS app that sent data to Facebook, according to Business Insider.

Scorecard: The case has just recently been filed and is in its early stages.

Takeaway: Zoom is helping people meet up virtually while stuck at home — but must respond to data and security issues.

Business Insider highlights one troubling trend: “During the recent surge in usage, Zoom has also struggled with trolls dropping into calls and sharing graphic or upsetting images, otherwise known as ‘Zoom bombing.’ ”

In Opioid Fight, Judge Dismisses Doctors’ Case Against Pharmacies

The case: In January, six pharmacy chains filed two complaints in U.S. District Court in Ohio, attempting to shift blame for the opioid crisis from pharmacies to doctors.

The pharmacies — Walgreens, CVS, Rite Aid, Walmart, Discount Drug Mart and HBC — argued that pharmacists don’t have medical licenses and must follow doctors’ orders to fill prescriptions.

“The pharmacies argued that they wouldn’t be going after doctors but that they had to do so because the counties are trying to hold them financially responsible for the opioid epidemic, which has seen hundreds of thousands of overdose deaths nationwide in the past two decades,” according to Cleveland.com.

Scorecard: U.S. District Judge Dan Polster struck down the complaints in late March. “In striking the complaints, the judge said the counties’ case is not only about whether pharmacies filled doctors’ prescriptions that may have been problematic.

Instead, it focuses on whether the companies had effective systems in place to look for illegitimate and large amounts of pills that were prescribed to patients, and whether they did their duty to prevent drugs from ending up in the hands of someone other than a patient, Polster wrote,” according to Cleveland.com.

Takeaway: Pharmacies are not being spared in the fight to right the wrongs of the opioid crisis. 

Apple Faces Music Piracy Suit From Heirs of Songwriters

The case: The heirs of songwriters like Harold Arlen, Ray Henderson, and Harry Warren have sued Apple claiming that the tech giant failed to obtain licenses for more than 80 recordings before selling them on iTunes.

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The songwriters have created some American classics. For example, Arlen wrote Over the Rainbow featured in The Wizard of Oz.

The plaintiffs accuse Apple and UK-based music company Adasam Limited of copyright infringement, according to Music Business Worldwide.

“The lawsuit cites various examples of recordings that are currently being sold and streamed legitimately alongside what it alleges are bootlegged versions also available to download via the iTunes store,” the publication wrote.

Scorecard: The case has just recently been filed and is in its early stages.

Takeaway: As older songs become more widely available online, music ownership will continue to be a major issue. &

Jared Shelly is a journalist based in Philadelphia. He can be reached at [email protected]

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The R&I Editorial Team can be reached at [email protected]