Efforts by some policyholders to consolidate ongoing insurance coverage lawsuits against four insurers into a business interruption MDL were upended this week when the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation denied their requests to consolidate cases, but allowed some to consolidate their cases against a fifth. The business interruption MDL created by the JPML follows the JPML decision in August, where it declined to consolidate a spate of nationwide coverage cases brought largely by restaurants, gyms, salons and dental practices, into a single MDL, but left the door open to insurer-specific MDLs. While acknowledging that “time is of the essence” and that many policyholder plaintiffs impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic are “on the brink of bankruptcy,” the panel ultimately felt it was less efficient to consolidate the majority of claims against the insurers.
After hearing oral arguments in late September, the panel’s ruling determined that consolidation of up to 34