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17 September 2020

Thompson Coe tops most active insurance litigation firms in the US, study finds

Business interruption cases also on rise amid Covid-19, Lex Machina report shows

By Ben Edwards

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Thompson Coe Cousins & Irons was named the most active law firm for insurance litigation in the US federal district courts over the past five years, according to LexMachina’s 2020 Insurance Report.

Thompson Coe filed 1,143 insurance cases during that period, slightly more than the 1,119 cases filed by Pandit Law—the second-most active firm. Thompson Coe mainly acted for defendants, with almost three-quarters of those cases involving home owner insurance.

Pandit Law, meantime, acted for plaintiffs in all but two cases. Around a quarter of its cases were hurricane-related. Between 2016 and 2019, insurance filings in the US rose 28%, Lex Machina data show.

While the main study only goes up until the end of last year, Lex Machina also included filing data from the start of this year to outline the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Insurance case filings increased 20% in the second quarter compared to the first three months of the year. Lex Machina noted that while case filings tend to increase in Q2, this year the increase was more stark, in part driven by an increase in business interruption case filings.

Ron Porter, Lex Machina’s insurance legal data expert, said: “Many businesses filed lawsuits after insurers denied their claims for business interruption coverage due to losses suffered during the shutdown.”

Out of the 4,000 insurance cases filed between March and the end of June this year, roughly one in 10 were directly caused by the Covid-19 crisis. 

Yet while the number of insurance case filings increased this year, there was a drop in all findings activity apart from summary judgments, which were up 2%.

Over the past five years, for all insurance cases, 75% terminated with a likely settlement and 14% with a procedural resolution. In business liability cases, 70% terminated with a likely settlement and 11% with a procedural resolution.

In cases that went to trial, claimants were more likely to win—notching 267 trial victories compared to 228 claim defendant wins over that period. In business liability cases that went to trial, claimants won 63 cases compared to 52 wins for defendants. 

Over the past decade, insurance filings have fluctuated between around 8,000 and 11,000 cases per year. 

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