Lex Machina has released its 2022 insurance litigation report, examining trends including case filings, venues, judges, law firms, parties, and damages across federal district and appellate courts from 2017 to 2021.
In 2021, 14,793 insurance cases were filed in federal district court – the most case filings in a year recorded by Lex Machina, whose database goes back to 2009. This also represented a 47% increase in case filings over the last five years.
Among Lex Machina’s seven insurance case categories – automobile, uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM), homeowner’s, hurricane-related cases, business liability, business interruption, and life – hurricane-related cases saw the largest increase between 2020 and 2021, though automobile and business liability insurance also saw significant growth during this period.
In 2021, 26% of all insurance litigation in federal district courts, or over 3,800 lawsuits, were hurricane-related. Business interruption cases peaked in 2020 but continued to be filed in large numbers throughout 2021.
From 2017 to 2021, the Southern District of Florida heard the highest number of insurance case filings. State Farm Mutual Auto Insurance was the most active defendant by number of cases with just under 2,500 lawsuits against it. State Farm’s casualty coverage firm, State Farm Fire & Casualty, was the second most active defendant, with 2,332 cases. Allstate Insurance rounded out the top three most active defendants by cases with 1,236 cases.
The most active plaintiffs’ law firm was Pandit Law, handling over 1,200 active cases, while the most active defendants’ law firm was Butler Weihmuller Katz Craig, with 1,050 active cases. Runners up on the plaintiffs’ side were Merlin Law Group and Gauthier Murphy & Houghtaling. On the defendants’ side were Neilsen & Treas and Thompson, Coe, Cousins & Irons with more than 800 active cases each.
In 2021, over $157 million in damages was awarded over 123 cases.
“Insurance is a very active practice area right now, and filtering between similar groups of cases is crucial,” said Ron Porter, Lex Machina’s insurance legal data expert. “By filtering case types, we are able to understand how much hurricane-related cases have affected the insurance practice, as well as look at trends in cases with very different fact patterns such as business interruption and automobile insurance cases.”