Lawsuits and Litigation

SEPTEMBER 8
Michigan Suit Brings Another Loss for Plaintiffs with COVID-19 Business Interruption Claims
The ruling by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan continues a losing streak for attorneys who argued that government agency closure orders to prevent the spread of COVID-19 should trigger coverage for lost business income. Read more here.

SEPTEMBER 3
Virus exclusion holds up in COVID-19 coverage case
A federal court ruled the virus exclusion in a dentist’s commercial insurance policy with a unit of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. bars coverage for coronavirus-related losses. Read more here.

SEPTEMBER 1
Case count tops 1,000 as litigation against insurers over COVID-19 takes shape
A federal judge’s ruling in Missouri represents one of the first victories of note for policyholders as litigation over business interruption insurance continues to pile up across the U.S. But with only a handful of opinions issued on the matter so far, it is clear that legal battles over whether pandemic-related losses are covered are still in the very early days of winding their ways through court. Read more here.

AUGUST 31
Insurer Defeats California Restaurant’s Coronavirus Business Loss Claim
A federal court in California has dismissed a lawsuit filed by a Los Angeles restaurant seeking business interruption losses from Travelers Indemnity due to coronavirus-related restrictions on its business. Read more here.

AUGUST 26
3 Reasons COVID-19 Business Income Suits Should Not be Combined

Recently a U.S. Judicial Panel on multidistrict litigation denied a proposal to consolidate cases related to business income losses related to coronavirus. Read more here.

AUGUST 17
‘It’s a huge decision’: Judge hands a win to businesses demanding insurance coverage for lost income due to coronavirus

A group of Kansas and Missouri hair salon and restaurant owners can proceed with a lawsuit trying to make their insurance company pay for the income they missed out on during COVID-19 government shutdown orders, a judge ruled Wednesday. Read more here.

School reopenings expected to bring a wave of lawsuits
A Georgia high school that made headlines for its packed hallways and unmasked students announced Aug. 9 that it would close for at least two days after it identified nine cases of COVID-19. Read more here.

AUGUST 13
Federal judge tosses San Antonio barbershops’ lawsuit against State Farm over COVID-19 losses
A federal judge Thursday tossed a case brought by six San Antonio barbershops against State Farm Lloyds for losses sustained after they were forced to shut down to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Read more here.

AUGUST 11
Courts rule insurers not responsible for COVID-19 BI losses
American multinational investment bank, Morgan Stanley (MS), has commented on a decision made by the Superior Court of D.C. which finds that the COVID-19 pandemic does not cause direct physical damage which would be a required trigger for business interruption (BI). Read more here.

COVID-19 Lawsuits: An Unprecedented Rise in Legal Warfare
There have been a lot of changes in the world due to the pandemic, but the rise in lawsuits and claims was not something any of us expected. Read more here.

As Business Interruption Lawsuits Pile Up, Several Lawyers Question the Strategy
Lawsuits over denial of coverage for business interruptions due to COVID-19 are piling up in New Jersey courts, but some experts expect the plaintiffs will have a difficult time recovering. Read more here.

AUGUST 07
D.C. Judge Rules For Insurer, Dismisses Restaurants’ Business Interruption Claims
The insurance industry has notched another victory in its defense of its commercial insurance policies against claims for business interruption due to the coronavirus. Read more here.

AUGUST 04
Coronavirus Lawsuits: 50 New York Restaurants Demand Insurance Companies Cover Damages
More than four dozen New York restaurants are suing their insurance companies, attempting to gain relief from coronavirus damages. The suit alleges the restaurants suffered physical losses because they had to partially reconstruct their properties to comply with pandemic guidelines. Read more here.

JULY 30
SF’s Historic Cliff House Restaurant Sues Insurance Company Over ‘Dishonest and Egregious’ Claim Denial
San Francisco’s historic Cliff House restaurant made headlines last week when it announced that after hustling to serve takeout and delivery meals during the pandemic, financial pressures had forced its temporary closure. Now its operators are suing their insurance company after it denied its business interruption claim. Read more here.

JULY 29
COVID BI Coverage Suits Top 700; Yep, That’s A Lot
When insurance coverage lawsuits brought by businesses seeking coverage for COVID-related interruptions surpassed the 700 mark last week, the natural question to ask was: Is that a lot? Read more here.

Hotel’s COVID-19 lawsuit hinges on policy renewal language
A recent class-action lawsuit filed by the owner of The Crescent Plaza Hotel against Zurich American Insurance Co. in the Northern District of Illinois illustrates the reappearance of one of the arguments litigated numerous times. Read more here.

Cheers owner sues insurers over refusal to cover coronavirus-related losses
Hampshire House Corp., which owns both the original and Faneuil Hall Cheers bars and the 75 on Liberty waterfront bar, this week sued three insurance companies to recoup the losses its incurred since the city and state shut down bars in March due to Covid-19 reasons. Read more here.

JULY 28
Berkshire Hathaway files motion to dismiss virus-related lawsuit
Other insurance companies may follow in Berkshire Hathaway’s footsteps in the near future. As the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, insurers continue to be the target of business interruption lawsuits. Read more here. (must register to read)

JULY 27
Hitting the books: Two MO universities file class action against insurer over pandemic losses
Two universities based in the state of Missouri have filed a class action lawsuit against their shared insurer, arguing that the insurance company denied their business interruption claims for losses sustained during the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more here.

JULY 23
Bill Would Force Insurance Co. to Pay Coronavirus ‘Business Interruption’ Claims
California Assembly members James Ramos (D-San Francisco) and Monique Limón (D-Santa Barbara) are pushing legislation that would force insurance companies to pay coronavirus-related “business interruption”claims they have been denying. Read more here.

JULY 21
Altar’d State slaps insurer with $28 million lawsuit
A national women’s fashion boutique is suing its insurer for $28 million over wrongful denial of coverage, alleging that the insurer denied the retailer’s business interruption claim for pandemic-related losses just days after it was filed. Read more here.

Denny’s Children’s Wear, Ta-boo restaurant sue insurers for denying claims
Both Palm Beach County businesses allege breach of contract by their insurance companies. Retailers and restaurants are losing money hand over fist during the pandemic, but insurance companies are still refusing to pay business interruption insurance claims, according to a series of recently filed lawsuits. Read more here.

JULY 20
Billionaire wades in with lawsuit over business interruption claims
The number of lawsuits filed against insurers over denied business interruption (BI) claims continues to rise, as a real estate tycoon becomes the latest plaintiff attempting to claim on pandemic-related business losses. Read more here.

JUNE 30
Tribes sue insurer over denied coronavirus business loss claims

Two federally recognized tribes based in the state of Washington are suing their insurance provider, claiming that the company denied their business loss claims related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more here.

North Carolina Lawmakers Send Bill to Allow More Business Re-Openings to Governor
North Carolina legislators sent another bill on Thursday to Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper designed to overturn parts of his executive order for COVID-19 that’s kept several types of retail businesses shuttered for months. Read more here.

Republicans consider special session for coronavirus liability
As the Tennessee General Assembly concluded its legislative business for the year early on the morning of June 19, members’ attention turned not to their re-election campaigns or summer holidays but to how quickly they could return to the Capitol. Read more here.

JUNE 19
Lawmakers must develop a public-private partnership to address insured losses from pandemics.
The catastrophic impacts of COVID-19 have presented challenges and opportunities for the insurance industry as to how to deal with business interruption (BI) losses by firms that did not have this coverage due to a viral exclusion clause in their policies. Read more here.

JUNE 18
Arkansas Governor’s Order Grants Businesses Virus Lawsuit Protections
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson has granted businesses protections from coronavirus lawsuits, while the state’s epidemiologist said she’s concerned loosened restrictions may have caused some to lower their guard against the virus. Read more here.

JUNE 17
Lawsuits and legislation on COVID-19 losses inch forward
The fight around business interruption coverage and whether it will apply for businesses that experienced losses from COVID-19 shutdowns continues. Read more here.

Insurer hit with COVID-19 suits says virus doesn’t damage property
The coronavirus does not cause damage to tangible property, therefore, income lost due to COVID-19 lockdowns is not covered by commercial insurance policies, an insurer facing multiple claims from restaurants and other businesses argued Monday. Read more here.

JUNE 12
Businesses That Remained Opened Despite Shutdown Could Face Questions About Coverage

Insurers are already seeing some pushback regarding virus-related claim denials from businesses that suffered losses while closed due to the pandemic, but what about claims a business could file if it opens despite a pandemic shutdown order? Read more here.

JUNE 08
Looking for Covid-19 relief, restaurants sue insurers who refuse to pay

In the event of a blizzard, flood or fire, Mark Hutchinson could always look to his insurers for help in keeping his string of restaurants afloat. Read more here.

JUNE 03
Greenlight to reopen doesn’t offset coronavirus-related risks
On a map of the United States published by The New York Times that reveals the various stages of reopening across the country, 39 states are now colored in dark blue, indicating that businesses are almost universally opening their doors again. Read more here.

In-N-Out Sues Insurance Company Over $250 Million Claim Denial During Pandemic
Zurich American was supposed to cover even “entirely unknown and novel risks,” the fast food burger company says. Read more here.

JUNE 01
State Orders Partial Auto Insurance Refunds For Michigan Drivers Amid Pandemic

All Michigan auto insurance companies must give partial premium refunds because people are driving less during the coronavirus pandemic, state officials said Monday. Read more here.

MAY 27
State Insurance Commissioners Issue Notices Regarding Business Interruption Coverage

The insurance commissioners of various states including Arkansas, Georgia, Kansas, Maryland, North Carolina and West Virginia recently issued letters, bulletins and press releases regarding business interruption coverage. Read more here.

MAY 26
Legislation Enabling Policyholders to Obtain Insurance Coverage for Coronavirus Claims is Constitutional Part 1
On top of its human toll, the coronavirus pandemic has had massive economic effects. Stay-at-home orders, which remain in place in much of the United States, have resulted in massive layoffs, spiraling claims for unemployment compensation, and unprecedented federal aid. Read more here.

French restaurant ruling puts coronavirus claims on global menu
AXA (AXAF.PA) will meet the bulk of business interruption claims from some restaurant owners in France, it said on Tuesday, after losing a court case seen as a potential precedent for coronavirus-related disputes across the world. Read more here.

MAY 22
Kansas lawmakers OK barring COVID-19 suits, curbing governor

Republicans pushed a sweeping coronavirus measure through the GOP-controlled Kansas Legislature on Friday, aiming to shield businesses and health care providers from coronavirus-related lawsuits and take control of the state’s pandemic response from Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly. Read more here.

Courts to have final say over ‘business interruption’ coverage
With no compromise in sight, it appears the debate over business interruption insurance coverage will be solved by litigation, not legislation. Read more here.

Fla. Sports Bar’s COVID-19 Insurance Claim Should Proceed
In the short space of two months, thousands of corporate policyholders across the country have gone from pursuing normal, prosperous business operations to substantially reduced or suspended business activity in response to state and local quarantine orders to, now, conflicts with insurance carriers over coverage for extensive business interruption losses. Read more here.

Georgia Bankruptcy Firm Sues Hartford To Cover Virus Losses
A Georgia bankruptcy law firm is suing Hartford Casualty Insurance Co., alleging that it wrongfully denied coverage for business income losses resulting from state-mandated shutdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more here.

MAY 19
When Insurers Deny Claims, Brokers Are Next in Line for Allegations of Wrongdoing
In the wake of government orders shutting down or seriously limiting the operations of businesses to deal with the COVID-19 outbreak, many affected businesses have turned to their insurers for coverage. Read more here.

MAY 18
Louisiana Senate approves tort reform that might lower auto insurance rates; see what’s next
The Louisiana Senate approved Monday sweeping tort reform legislation, which supporters promise will lower the price of auto insurance in Louisiana, with more votes than needed to override a gubernatorial veto. Read more here.

MAY 17
Should Insurance Companies Pay For COVID Shutdown Losses?
Randy and Amanda Rucker opened River Twice, their modern American BYO on Passyunk Avenue, seven months ago, hoping that his culinary talent and her business acumen would establish the restaurant as a fixture on one of Philadelphia’s most competitive restaurant corridors. Read more here.

MAY 16
Auto Insurance Relief Sought For Businesses
Empty roads and vacant workplaces due to the coronavirus outbreak mean fewer cars on the road, fewer fender benders and fewer insurance clams. Read more here.

MAY 15
Pandemic Business Interruption Insurance Coverage: Insights from WSB Survey of Insurance Experts

2As businesses across the country (and the globe) have been forced to shut down to contain the spread of COVID-19, many have turned to their insurance policies for indemnification of their losses through business interruption (BI) insurance coverage. However, only about 40% of small businesses in the U.S. purchase BI coverage, and for many policies in place, pandemics are excluded or not explicitly covered. Read more here.

MAY 14
Language in Emergency Orders Gives Ammo to Plaintiffs in Business-Interruption Suits
Cities and counties across the country may have handed plaintiff’s attorneys an argument to use in lawsuits against insurers that seek business-interruption coverage for losses caused by coronavirus closure orders. Read more here.

MAY 13
Retroactive business interruption cover would make pricing ‘astronomical’
Washington’s state insurance commissioner is strongly opposed to plans that would retroactively force insurers to cover business interruption claims, but has instructed companies to make sure they give “sound, legal reasons” when denying claims. Read more here.

Louisiana Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon
“The NAIC [National Association of Insurance Commissioners] has told Congress that if they do this; if they pass a bill, which there are several pending, the industry can’t afford it, and the industry will bankrupt. Read more here.

Pennsylvania bill would define COVID-19 as property damage
The proposed legislation would require insurers to pay claims that standard property policies do not typically cover. Read more here.

Bid to Force Interruption Insurance to Cover Virus Shelved
Louisiana lawmakers won’t try to force business interruption insurance to cover the widespread closures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more here.

MAY 12
21 State Attorneys General Urge Congress To Protect Businesses From Coronavirus-Related Lawsuits

Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr is leading a coalition of 21 state attorney generals seeking congressional support to create federal legislation that will protect businesses from frivolous lawsuits related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more here.
RELATED: Read the letter to Congress here.

Okla. Senate passes bill to protect firms from virus lawsuits
A Republican bill that would protect businesses from lawsuits arising from the COVID-19 pandemic passed the Oklahoma Senate on Monday. Read more here.

MAY 11
Insurance Department Warns of Risks, Increased Liability with Non-Compliance of Business Closure Orders
Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman today reminded businesses of the importance of complying with Governor Tom Wolf and Department of Health Secretary Rachel Levine’s orders – for counties in both the red and yellow phases. Read more here.

MAY 07
State Regulators Seek COVID-19 P&C Insurance Data
Insurance regulators are collecting data to help determine losses related to COVID-19 and to guide future policy decisions. All 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territories have agreed to participate in a data call to collect data related to insurance and COVID-19. Read more here.

MAY 05
Workers’ Comp, Liability Next Up for Virus Insurance Disputes (Corrected)
Coronavirus-related insurance disputes and litigation are likely to move beyond business interruption coverage and into workers compensation and general liability policy lines as states begin to lift restrictions on economic activity. Read more here.

MAY 04
Legal Sea Foods sues insurer for coronavirus coverage
The Boston-based restaurant chain is suing Strathmore Insurance Co. for rejecting its damages claim stemming from the coronavirus pandemic, alleging that its “all risks” policy covers financial losses after Massachusetts and other states ordered restaurants to close except for takeout service. Read more here.

APRIL 27
Some Insurance Regulators Skeptical About Business Interruption Claims
Insurance commissioners in at least seven states have advised business owners not to get their hopes up if pursuing business-interruption claims. Scott Seaman, a partner with the Hinshaw & Culbertson law firm in Chicago, posted a blog on Friday that relayed communications from insurance commissioners in Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, West Virginia and the District of Columbia. Read more here.

APRIL 17
North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey
“Mandating coverage for this size and type of loss while canceling existing exclusions in the policies would end the very existence of the business interruption insurance market as we know it.” Read more here.

APRIL 15
North Carolina Creates Process for Insurers to Legally Offer Pandemic Premium Relief
The North Carolina Department of Insurance says it is working with insurers to allow them to offer financial relief to policyholders without filing for department approval or risking violating state law during the current coronavirus pandemic. Read more here.

Shoe Co. Sues Hartford Over Coronavirus Closure Coverage
Shoe designer Marc Fisher Footwear LLC and a slew of associated companies have sued a unit of The Hartford in California state court, alleging the insurer has wrongfully failed to cover tens of millions of dollars in losses they have suffered since coronavirus-related closures brought their business to a grinding halt. Read more here.

APRIL 14
CONGRESSMAN MIKE THOMPSON (CA) files HR 6494
The bill requires any insurer that offers business interruption coverage to make available and provide coverage for losses resulting from any viral pandemic, any forced closure of business or mandatory evacuation (from all levels of government), any power shut off.
Requires the coverage not differ materially to what is offered for other types of loss under BIPreempts and voids exclusions for the required coverage above (viral pandemic, etc.)

Alabama Regulator Eases Process for Auto Insurers to Reduce Policyholder Premiums
The Alabama Department of Insurance says it will waive filing fees and allow for immediate implementation of premium reductions by insurers in an effort to provide some relief to Alabama consumers. Read more here.

APRIL 13
Task force targets coronavirus fraudsters in Nevada
Nevada’s attorney general and U.S. attorney have assembled a new task force to crack down on scams and other crimes related to the new coronavirus. Read more here.

California orders car insurance rebates due to coronavirus. Many carriers already cut rates
If you haven’t already, you could soon see a refund from your car insurance carrier. California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara has ordered carriers to return premiums paid for at least the months of March and April for insurance lines where the risk of loss has fallen substantially as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more here.

APRIL 09
Bill would up pressure on insurers to cover business interruption
South Carolina lawmakers have become the latest to introduce a bill that would force insurers to retroactively cover business interruption claims due to COVID-19. Read more here.

APRIL 07
Pennsylvania bill would force COVID-19 business interruption coverage
Pennsylvania lawmakers have joined Louisiana, New York, Ohio, Massachusetts and New Jersey in introducing a bill that would force insurers to retroactively cover business interruption claims due to COVID-19. Read more here.

Minnesota Legislature OKs workers compensation for coronavirus first responders
The Minnesota Legislature on Tuesday approved a bipartisan proposal to allow emergency responders to draw workers compensation benefits if they contract the coronavirus while on the job. Read more here.

MARCH 30
The Colorado Division of Insurance Emergency Regulation 20-E-03
CONCERNING RESTRICTIONS ON COVERAGE FOR USE OF A PERSONAL AUTOMOBILE OR AS AN ADDITIONAL UNNAMED DRIVER ON A RESTAURANT COMMERCIAL AUTOMOBILE POLICY FOR FOOD DELIVERY DURING PENDENCY OF PUBLIC HEALTH ORDER 20-22. Read the regulation here.

MARCH 26
West Virginia Insurance Commissioner James A. Dodrill

“For example, insurance policies generally contain exclusions for loss or damage caused by war, nuclear accident and radiation. The potential loss costs from such perils are so great that providing coverage would jeopardize the financial solvency of insurers and many businesses could not afford the premium costs to cover such catastrophic events even if theywere covered perils. Global pandemics like COVID-19 usually fall into this category of risks or perils that are not covered.Read more here.

MARCH 25
Native American casino owner sues Lloyd’s, AIG over coronavirus losses
A Native American tribe on Tuesday sued a group of insurance companies, asking a court to declare that losses it is incurring from shutting down its casinos during the coronavirus pandemic are covered by insurance. Read the full story here.

MARCH 24
Ohio state Representatives Jeffrey Crossman and John Rogers introduced legislation requiring every policy of insurance insuring against loss or damage to property, which includes the loss of use and occupancy and business interruption, to be interpreted to include coverage for global virus transmission. This coverage would apply for businesses with 100 or fewer employees who have that type of coverage. To read the legislation go here.

Massachusetts Senator James Eldridge and Representative Nika Elugardo filed SD 2888, which would require coverage of COVID-19 for policies sold to businesses in the commonwealth with 150 or fewer full-time employees, as long as the policies were in place by the time the March 10th emergency declaration was issued by the Governor. To read the legislation go here.

MARCH 22
New York State posted frequently asked questions about business interruption insurance and a gubernatorial executive order cited telecommuting for financial services institutions.

MARCH 17
Georgia Insurance Commissioner John F. King

“Virus and disease are not typically an insured peril unless added by endorsement. Most policies generally exclude loss caused by or resulting from any virus, bacterium, or other microorganism that induces or is capable of inducing physical distress, illness, or disease.” Read more here.

MARCH 16
First lawsuit filed over business interruption insurance
A New Orleans, Louisiana restaurant is suing Lloyd’s of London, hoping a judge will order the U.K. based insurance market to cover losses caused by government-ordered closures due to the coronavirus. The suit against Lloyd’s of London was filed on March 16, seeking a declaratory judgment to proactively force the insurance carrier to pay for losses from a pandemic. Read more here.

New Jersey Assembly Bill 3844 provides that every policy of insurance insuring against loss or damage to property, which includes the loss of use and occupancy and business interruption, in force on the date of the Executive Order, shall be construed to include among the covered perils under that policy coverage for business interruption due to global birus transmission or pandemic… Read the bill here.

In response to New Jersey Assembly Bill 3822, The Insurance Council of New Jersey wrote this Statement of Opposition saying in part, “…requiring insurers to provide coverage where none exists is in direct conflict with the U.S. Constitution non-impairment clause that is to safeguard the integrity of contracts against unwarranted interference by the State…”. Read the complete statement here.