Prof. Tom Baker’s COVID Coverage Litigation Tracker includes over 1,500 cases and is regularly cited in court opinions and major publications.
The COVID Coverage Litigation Tracker (CCLT), created by William Maul Measey Professor of Law Tom Baker at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School, will enable scholars and researchers to study in real time how courts respond to the challenges posed by a new wave of mass litigation. The CCLT now includes over 1,500 cases and has been cited regularly in court filings, judicial opinions, and major publications such as The Wall Street Journal, Time, Bloomberg, and The National Law Review.
Baker, who is also the Reporter for the American Law Institute’s recently published Restatement of the Law Liability Insurance, is the founder of Insurance Law Analytics (ILA), which “conducts empirical research on insurance litigation to inform the resolution of insurance disputes and the development of insurance law.” The CCLT is ILA’s first research project.
Development of the CCLT
Early on during the COVID-19 pandemic, Baker had the foresight to realize that a tool of this sort could be incredibly valuable, and the CCLT quickly became a reality with the cooperation of several entities, including the Law School’s IT department, and Michael Klausner and Jason Hegland of Stanford Securities Litigation Analytics (SSLA).
Students from the Law School as well as those from the Insurance Law Center of the University of Connecticut School of Law have been collecting data for each coverage case. Among those assisting in coding the CCLT cases are Madison Kirton L’22 and Jordan Einstein L’22, who both express how much they’ve enjoyed working with Baker, their peers, and the CCLT. Einstein describes it as his “favorite experience in law school so far.”
As part of the experience, the law students are also playing an integral role in the continued tweaking of the database.
“As Professor Baker says all the time,” said Einstein, “we have been building and flying the plane at the same time which can be frustrating because it creates some redundancy, but it also means we as students have been able to implement our own ideas to change and improve the database.”
The CCLT and its dataset
Baker has three primary goals for the CCLT:
(1) to provide a trusted source of information for the lawyers evaluating and handling the cases and the judges deciding them;
(2) to facilitate the rigorous empirical study of this emerging category of cases; and
(3) to develop a data structure, acquisition, and analytics framework for the tracking and rigorous empirical study of other emerging categories of litigation.
For each case, the CCLT tracks the policyholder name and industry code; insurer name and AM Best number; policyholder and insurer law firms; the court in which the case is litigated; the coverage sought; the type of insurance policy and state of issue; the relevant insurance policy forms; whether class action status is sought and, if so, the alleged class or classes; and information regarding key litigation events.
The dataset is kept current with a delay of about two weeks from when federal cases are filed; state coverage is less complete because of the limits of state court data.
“The biggest impact of CCLT’s dataset is that, in the absence of binding case law, it can provide an effective resource that objectively reports on and grapples with the effects of COVID-19 on insurance contracts,” said Kirton.