Late Friday, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation denied four out of the five remaining motions to create centralized Multidistrict Litigation proceedings for COVID-19 Business Income litigation. The one exception involved Society Insurance Company, a regional insurer in the Midwest, for whom they ordered centralization.
Links to the Orders:
This was the second phase of a process that began last spring when mass tort and consumer class action attorneys filed the first wave of COVID-19 Business Income cases, many alleged as class actions, and then sought to have them centralized in one district, most prominently the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, which sits in Philadelphia.
In August, the MDL Panel denied the initial centralization motions but agreed to consider insurer by insurer multidistrict proceedings for Underwriters at Lloyds, Cincinnati Insurance Company, Hartford, Society, and Travelers. All the insurers, and some of the plaintiffs, opposed those motions.
Friday, the MDL panel denied the centralization motions for all except Society, for which the panel ordered centralization in the Northern District of Illinois. This will allow individual federal courts to continue to decide these cases on the merits, as a number of courts have already done, predominantly in favor of the insurance industry.