In a widely anticipated ruling, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation has denied two motions to centralize pretrial proceedings in hundreds of federal cases seeking coverage for business interruption losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the Panel has ordered expedited briefing on whether four separate consolidated proceedings should be set up for four insurers – Cincinnati, Society, Hartford, and Lloyds – who appear to be named in the largest number of claims.
In seeking a single, industry-wide MDL proceeding, some plaintiffs had argued that common questions predominated across the hundreds of pending federal suits: namely,  the question of what constituted ‘physical loss or damage’ to property, under the allegedly standardized terms of various insurers’ policies;  the question whether various government closure orders should trigger coverage under those policies, and  the question whether any exclusions, particularly virus exclusions, applied.
Reprinted courtesy of Eric B. Hermanson, White and Williams and Konrad R. Krebs, White and Williams
Mr. Hermanson may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Mr. Krebs may be contacted at email@example.com