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COVID-19 business interruption classes consolidated in Georgia

In August of this year, Beasley Allen lawyers Dee Miles, Gibson Vance, Chris Glover, Paul Evans and Rachel Nichole Minder (née Boyd) filed a class action complaint against Defendant Westchester Surplus Lines Insurance Company in United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. Like other cases filed by Beasley Allen related to COVID-19 business interruption coverage, this case, The Last Resort-Mobile LLC v. Westchester Surplus Lines Ins. Co., arises from a denial by Westchester of its policyholders’ business interruption coverage claims after they were required to close or reduce business after government authorities issued closure orders in an attempt to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

In September, lawyers for The Last Resort-Mobile LLC filed a motion to consolidate this case with a previously filed action against Westchester in the same court, The K’s Inc. v. Westchester Surplus Lines Ins. Co. Counsel for both cases also filed a motion to appoint Dee Miles of Beasley Allen and Adam Levitt of DiCello Levitt Gutzler LLC as interim co-lead class counsel, and to appoint Beasley Allen lawyer Gibson Vance as liaison counsel. Both motions were opposed by counsel for Westchester.

The court held a hearing on Oct. 5, 2020, and heard arguments from both sides regarding the consolidation and leadership motions. Despite the arguments from Westchester’s counsel, the court indicated it was inclined to consolidate the proceedings and appoint Dee Miles and Adam Levitt as interim class counsel. The parties then submitted competing proposed orders to the court to clarify the scope of consolidation.

Ultimately, on Nov. 6, 2020, District Judge William M. Ray of the Northern District of Georgia issued orders consolidating The Last Resort and The K’s for all purposes and appointed Dee Miles and Adam Levitt as Interim Class Counsel and Gibson Vance as Liaison Counsel. The court also indicated it would reserve the determination of whether to consolidate other later-filed actions or actions transferred or removed to the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. The court also instructed that it will decide dispositive motions before addressing any motion for class certification. Since the issuance of the court’s order, the parties have begun discovery to prove their respective claims and defenses.

In addition to this action, Beasley Allen lawyers continue to monitor the development of other COVID-19 business interruption cases and proposed legislation. Dee Miles, head of our Consumer Fraud Section, Rachel Boyd and Paul Evans are spearheading the litigation of business interruption litigation for our firm and monitoring any multidistrict litigation (MDL) developments that arise. Contact these lawyers if you have any questions or would like to discuss potential claims.

This story appears in the January 2021 issue of The Jere Beasley Report. For more like this, visit the Report online and subscribe.

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