A nonprofit group that works to improve the efficiency of the legal system has launched a new project to create discovery protocols for COVID-19 insurance claims.
The Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System (IAALS) said an unprecedented number of time-consuming and costly cases are flooding U.S. courts because of the pandemic. Many involve business interruption property damage claims stemming from COVID-19 closure orders.
The Institute said it will create pattern protocols that will require both businesses and insurance companies to automatically disclose certain information and documents early in the case.
“This will make the discovery process—normally one of the most expensive, contentious, and lengthy parts of litigation—far more efficient and targeted,” IAALS said in a press release.
The protocols will provide judges with a new pretrial procedure to follow, which will make it easier and faster for the parties and their counsel to exchange information and documents, frame issues, and value claims for possible early resolution.
“If we can work now to put in place protocols to ensure these cases move through the process efficiently, this will benefit the businesses, the insurance companies, and our court system at a time when the need is greatest,” said Brittany Kauffman, Senior Director at IAALS in a media statement. “If we can work now to put in place protocols to ensure these cases move through the process efficiently, this will benefit the businesses, the insurance companies, and our court system at a time when the need is greatest.”
The Institute said it has worked with the courts to improve the discovery process and hasten the resolution of other types of court cases in the past, including for employment cases, fair labor standards act cases, and disaster cases.
“Courts and litigants throughout the country will be grappling with COVID-19 insurance issues long after the disease has run its course,” said Douglas J. Pepe, a partner at Joseph Hage Aaronson LLC. “Building on the model developed for natural disasters, we hope to give courts a package of effective tools to streamline the critical early stage of COVID-19 insurance cases, and to position these significant disputes for a more efficient resolution,” said Pepe, who previously served on the IAALS Disaster Protocols Committee and is currently serving on the COVID-19 Protocols working group.