With hundreds of thousands of confirmed cases and increasing deaths worldwide, COVID-19 has quickly become the only topic of conversation. I can no longer remember what we used to talk about. If you own a business, you have probably felt the effects of the pandemic more substantively. We have.
The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) will hear oral arguments in late July, about whether to consolidate and centralize lawsuits involving COVID-19 insurance coverage. After the SARS outbreak in 2003, many insurance carriers created policies made to include a vague virus exclusion as a reason for them not to cover businesses who have been paying insurance for years. Unfortunately, in most cases, insurance companies did not offer policies without this exclusion or the ability to buy virus coverage.
On April 20, plaintiffs’ lawyers filed a motion to form an MDL. The motion filed in the Northern District of Illinois (and another was filed in Pennsylvania) alleges that there are two key issues that need to be decided in this litigation: business interruption cases turn on two questions: (1) whether COVID-19 causes “physical damage or loss to property” and, (2) whether the COVID was “present” on the insured property. Those issues should be decided in one litigation for efficiency and for consistent rulings. The court has yet to decide whether to grant plaintiffs’ motion for an MDL class action.