Fairness or Justice: Prospective Jurors' Views on Business Interruption Insurance During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Daniel Wolfe, J.D., Ph.D.
Senior Director of Jury Consulting (Magna Legal Services)

As part of an ongoing effort to examine the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on prospective jurors' attitudes and beliefs, Magna Legal Services has been conducting a series of nationwide surveys to assess these evolving changes and shifts in perceptions in this Brave New World. Since the beginning of the pandemic in mid-March of this year, we have collected responses from nearly 4,000 jury-eligible adults to a variety of topics, including jurors propensity to show up for jury duty, social and financial impact on individuals as well as corporations, perceptions of industry specific corporations, as well as the impact of pandemic on jurors" verdict and damages propensities in civil cases.

One area of particular interest that has become a burgeoning hotbed of nationwide litigation efforts has been in commercial insurance coverage litigation related to business interruption insurance claims. It is not uncommon for us to hear from clients that if they represent an insurance company it is almost next to impossible to get a fair trial based on a commonly held belief that "jurors hate insurance companies." Our experience over the years has demonstrated that most jury-eligible adults have had neutral to positive experiences with experiences with insurance companies, most notably in the areas of health, auto, and homeowner insurance claims. Notwithstanding the occasional parade of horribles with insurance claims that some prospective jurors lament, rarely do we see the level of insurrection from jurors that overrides their sense of fairness and justice in any particular case. That being said, we have seen demonstrable shifts in prospective jurors’ willingness to be compassionate as a result of the ongoing pandemic.

In our most recent survey of 500 jury-eligible adults nationwide, we inquired as to prospective jurors’ experiences and general views of insurance companies. Less than one-quarter of the respondents reported that they personally, and/or immediate family members or close friends, have had what they consider to be a particularly negative experience with an insurance company. See full article here