Greg Katz Discusses Coronavirus Pandemic Trial Delay with Law360

New York, N.Y. (March 25, 2020) - New York Partner Gregory S. Katz was quoted in a Law360 article titled “By Halting Trials, Coronavirus May Push Parties To The Table,” which addresses how current freezes on jury trials may encourage parties to settle matters outside of the courtroom.

The coronavirus outbreak has forced state and federal courts across the country to halt jury trials. Jurisdictions that have experienced the most significant effects of the outbreak, such as the Southern District of New York, the Central District of California, and the Western District of Washington, may maintain trial freezes that last well into spring.

Mr. Katz, who is the managing partner of Lewis Brisbois’ New York office and chair of the General Liability and Transportation Practices, told Law360 that the unprecedented delays could upend any usual expectations concerning settlements. He explained, “Now you have a scenario where you don’t know when you’ll get a trial date, and even if you do, all courts have limited resources.” He added, “There are forces on both sides that will take this time to see if cases can be resolved, and maybe on much more favorable terms.”

According to Mr. Katz, plaintiffs’ attorneys who work on a contingency-fee basis as well as insurance companies will feel particular financial pressure to settle matters as trial delays continue. Mr. Katz described, “[Plaintiffs attorneys] work on contingency, so how else do they make money besides settling cases?” He also noted that “insurance companies want cases settled from an economic standpoint that makes sense” and that defendants similarly will seek to resolve litigation as the court delays mount. 

In explaining that Lewis Brisbois has already experienced delays in seven of its cases that were scheduled to go to trial in recent weeks, Mr. Katz described the challenges that will likely occur once courts resume their trial schedules. Specifically, he told Law360 he anticipates that even if courts start holding jury trials in May or June, they will need to balance their existing full trial calendars with the backlog that the coronavirus pandemic has created. “We foresee they’re going to put a lot of cases on for trial beyond the normal number,” Mr. Katz explained. He added, “Courts won’t want to do adjournments, they will be focused on moving files.”

Accordingly, in the face of the unpredictable nature of the courts’ future trial schedules, attorneys are actively preparing the cases for which they will be receiving new trial dates. Mr. Katz explained that Lewis Brisbois’ trial attorneys are reviewing the matters that have been delayed so that they will be prepared if these cases are called for trial as soon as the courts open their doors again.

Technology has also been playing a significant role in litigation while the courts are closed, as attorneys employ remote methods for pushing their matters along. Mr. Katz noted that, for the first time, he will handle an upcoming mediation in which both parties will appear by video.

You can read the full article on Law360 (subscription may be required).

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