Posted in News on 09 Jan 2020

In today’s litigious environment, the increase in legal verdicts across a multitude of industries is a worrying trend in the US and many clients will have exposure to risk/claims that will not have been previously considered.

‘Nuclear verdicts’, those exceed USD $10m, or awards that are greater than the expected pay out, based upon the circumstances of the loss, are now commonplace in the US and there are three key drivers behind the rise.

1)  Social inflation: Negative feelings in today’s society, public insecurity and the fact someone is to blame or has to pay.

2)  Litigation funding: Third Party investors contributing to legal costs and expenses in exchange for a share of the proceeds.

3)  Corporate mistrust: Lack of public faith in corporations and their responsibilities.

A number of industry types and social factors are contributing to the increase in litigation and class action lawsuits. Here is a selection of those headline industries that are subject to rising legal verdicts and the causes behind them:

  • Utility – Wildfire
  • Hotel/Hospitality – Litigation Following Mass Shootings
  • Medical – Opioid Crisis
  • Chemical – Round Up/Glyphosate
  • Sports – Related Head Trauma
  • State/Religious – Sexual Molestation Litigation
  • Environmental – Climate Change


Here are the key numbers showing the scale of legal verdicts in the US and why it is critical to consider a risk management solution that mitigates against the financial losses. Between 1st January 2018 and July 2019 there were approx. 192 verdicts across 28 states where verdicts/ settlements exceeded $10,000,000*

Product Liability: $4,857,000,000 
Medical Malpractice: $2,480,000,000
Premises/Construction: $1,406,000,000
Trucking/Auto:  $1,314,000,000 
Total: $10,057,000,000

Source: Lexis – Legal Research, January 1, 2018 July 17, 2019

Alesco explores ‘Nuclear verdicts’, those exceed USD10m, or awards that are greater than the expected pay out, based upon the circumstances of the loss, are now commonplace in the US and there are three key drivers behind the rise.


The Millennial effect is an expression you may have heard recently and has also been acknowledged as a contributing factor to the changing legal environment, but what constitutes a Millennial? They are the largest living generation and include individuals born between 1980 and 2000. They are better educated than previous generations and are less connected to traditional family or religious values. They also share a more inclusive view of the world with the help of technology and social media. They are safety conscious and have high standards for personal and corporate responsibility.

In the USA, one third of jurors are comprised of Millennials.


While no company expects to get sued, it is critical to have risk management controls that ensure the business has a level of protection, should a lawsuit occur. Lawsuits have increased in terms of their severity and a sizable judgment against a company can easily damage reputation, market share, and bottom line profit. As the frequency of nuclear verdicts increases, its vital clients collaborate with their insurance broker so they can understand the business and assist by providing coverage and limits that individually match the exposures.


Handling our US Casualty Portfolio is our specialist team that comprises of account managers, technical support and a dedicated in-house claims team who all sit within a single London office.

The close proximity of these individuals, coupled with the team’s strong underwriting background ensures we can respond rapidly and effectively to our client’s requirements no matter where they are located.


Tom Payne, Managing Partner
T: +44 (0)20 3425 3297 | E:

Peter Linehan, Partner - US Casualty
T: +44 (0)207 204 8536 | E:

Andrew Tyrrell, Partner - US Casualty
T: +44 (0)20 7560 3088 | E:

Max Pragnall, Associate - US Casualty
T: +44 (0)207 560 3713 | E:

Laureen Wright, Account Executive - US Casualty
T: +44 (0)207 204 8568 | E:

This information is not intended to constitute any form of opinion or specific guidance and recipients should not infer any opinion or specific guidance from its content. Recipients should not rely exclusively on the information contained in the bulletin and should make decisions based on a full consideration of all available information. We make no warranties, express or implied, as to the accuracy, reliability or correctness of the information provided. We and our officers, employees or agents shall not be responsible for any loss whatsoever arising from the recipient’s reliance upon any information we provide and exclude liability for the statistical content to fullest extent permitted by law.