Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas Judge Christine A. Ward ordered all ongoing and future Pennsylvania state court cases against Erie Insurance Exchange for improperly denying COVID-19 business interruption claims to be coordinated in her courtroom. “The Allegheny County action, Philadelphia County action, and the Lancaster County action are coordinated for all pre-trial matters, trial, and full and final resolution,” the Judge wrote in her order on Thursday.
This order comes after attorneys for the plaintiffs, including Jonathan Shub of Shub Law Firm, petitioned Judge Ward for coordination last month. The plaintiffs argued in their motion for coordination that “[c]oordination … in Allegheny County — a court with a structured case management program for commerce, complex and class cases designed to provide litigants with timely resolution of disputes by a judge with expertise and experience in such actions — will promote the efficient utilization of judicial facilities and the just and efficient conduct of the actions.” Erie responded that the facts of each case vary too widely for coordination to be productive, but the Court disagreed and sided with the plaintiffs.
The Court gave the parties in the lawsuits against Erie 30 days from the date of the order or 14 days from after they are notified, whichever is later, to raise objections to being moved. Erie will be responsible for notifying plaintiffs in other related actions against it, the order said. Barring any objections, all cases with similar questions of law or fact against Erie will be automatically transferred to Judge Ward.
Jonathan Shub of Shub Law Firm was quoted in a Law360.com article about the order saying, “‘We are pleased with the court’s decision to coordinate these cases in one court as this determination will result in efficiencies for both litigants and the court…We look forward to aggressively advancing our client’s interests in procuring insurance coverage under their policies.’”
Review the Order here.