On March 9, 2020, Ron Jacobs was quoted in USAE News regarding the legal implications of the coronavirus for associations that still want to hold their conferences, conventions, and trade shows.
Jacobs said Venable has done some research on the liability potential and has not come across any examples. Indeed, he said the case law suggests there's no legal liability for the event host, although he said someone might still come up with a theory to bring a lawsuit.
Even if the legal risk is low, the business side might make less sense if attendees and exhibitors can't – or won’t – attend the conference. Jacobs recommended that organizations examine their insurance policies as well as their contracts with convention centers, hotels, and vendors.
"We've seen situations where an event cancellation policy clearly covers disease but doesn't cover the fear of disease," Jacobs said. "When is a member not attending because of fear of disease or avoiding a disease if it's in that area? I think there will be a lot of fights in those areas."