Due to changes in the Texas Insurance Code that went into effect in 2017, more and more first-party insurance cases are ending up in Federal Court. Now that we are entering the second full week of the government shutdown some of my clients are asking what happens with their cases.
The simple answer for most insureds is nothing has changed yet. When a shutdown appeared likely the Federal Judiciary notified attorneys/litigants/potential jurors that it would use court fee balances and other funds not dependent on appropriations to keep the Federal District Courts open for approximately three weeks (January 11th).1 If the shutdown continues after that date, some employees will be furloughed, and normal operations will be affected. Common sense tells us that civil cases, like insurance claims, will be easier for the courts to reschedule over criminal matters.
Merlin Law Group also represents a number of property owners against the federal government for the intentional flooding by the Army Corps of Engineers.2 In these cases the federal government recently filed a motion to stay all pre-trial deadlines and trial dates in light of lapse of appropriations with the United States Court of Federal Claims. Some courts have already stayed all litigation against the government or governmental employees.3
We may not know the full effects of the government shutdown on active litigation until it is over. In the mean time we will continue to keep our clients up to date.
3 See United States District Court For the Western District of Texas General Order dated Dec. 22, 2018.