Insurers Number One Litigators Among American Business

This is an interesting survey by the Fulbright and Jaworski law firm about litigation and American business.  If you’re trying to restrict your word intake, however, I warn you it’s long, so you might want to take in this summary instead. 

The survey found insurers far and away are the most active business litigators with, among the insurance companies surveyed, an average 1,700 cases per insurer.  However, read this paragraph from the survey:

No segment of the American economy was spared a weighty litigation docket, but the undisputed champion of disputes is the insurance industry, where companies face an average 1,696 lawsuits, spanning product liability and environmental class actions to directors and officers claims, and even coverage fights over hurricanes and terrorist attacks. Retailers and energy firms were also targeted heavily – both sectors reporting average caseloads north of 330 per company.

Are they mixing defense obligations with coverage claims?  No wonder insurers are so far ahead of the pack if the survey is counting their obligation to defend policyholders who get sued.  That, however, is kind of like comparing apples to monster trucks tires.  Other businesses don’t routinely take on defense or indemnity obligations, and certainly don’t market these obligations as a product, as insurers do.  

Still, the numbers are interesting.  The survey shows that U.S. businesses are involved in many more lawsuits than U.K. companies (and that only 20 percent of the lawsuits that involve American firms originate overseas, so the litigation pie is mostly homemade). Some of the difference might be that the U.S. has a much larger population than the U.K., or that the U.S. companies tend to be larger, but much of the difference may have to do with the litigation culture in this country. 

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