The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation denied motions to centralize pretrial proceedings in pending COVID-19 business interruption claims. In re COVID-19 Business interruption Protection Insurance Litigation, 2020 U.S. District. LEXIS 144446 (Aug. 12, 2020).
Plaintiff policy holders sought consolidation, contending their policies provided coverage for business interruption losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the related government orders suspending, or severely curtailing, operations of non-essential businesses. The Panel considered 15 actions on the pending motions, but had notice of 263 related actions.
Some plaintiffs opposed centralization or sought to be excluded from any MDL. Some argued the Panel should centralize the coverage actions on a state-by-state, regional, or insurer-by-insurer basis.
The Panel did not accept consolidation of all cases. There was little potential for common discovery across the litigation because there was no common defendant as the actions involved either a single insurer or insurer-group. The various cases involved different insurance policies with different coverages, conditions, exclusions, and policy language, purchased by different businesses in different industries located in different states.