MIAMI — A Florida appeals panel on Feb. 24 held that post-loss requirements have been met by both a homeowners insurer and an insured and the issue as to hurricane damage is ripe for appraisal, reversing and remanding with directions to stay the coverage lawsuit and compel appraisal under the policy.
CHICAGO — A federal judge in Illinois on Feb. 22 refused to dismiss business interruption coverage and bad faith claims brought against an insurer in three bellwether lawsuits arising from the governmental shutdown of hospitality businesses in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic, finding that a reasonable jury can find that the insureds suffered “a direct ‘physical’ loss of property on their premises.”
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Four insurers standing in the shoes of their Butte County, Calif., insureds on Feb. 2 requested that a California court dismiss with prejudice their lawsuits alleging that PG&E Corp. and/or Pacific Gas & Electric Co.’s “well-documented disregard for safety regulations and risk management practices” and “blind eye towards the use of effective maintenance and inspection practices for their facilities and equipment” triggered various factors that caused and/or contributed to causing the “most destructive and deadly wildfire California has ever experienced."
NEW ORLEANS — The Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Feb. 22 dismissed an insured’s appeal of a federal court’s finding that it failed to provide a sworn proof of loss that was a prerequisite for invoking the policy’s appraisal provision, finding that the lower court “ostensibly” entered a final judgment without resolving the insured’s counterclaims against the insurer or expressly ordering a partial final judgment in an appraisal dispute over hailstorm damage.
CHICAGO — A federal judge in Illinois on Feb. 22 denied a commercial general liability insurer’s motion to dismiss a breach of contract and declaratory relief lawsuit brought by McDonald’s Corp. and former and current franchise owners seeking coverage for an underlying class action injunction alleging that they are taking inadequate steps to contain COVID-19 in the workplace.
EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. — A federal judge in Illinois on Feb. 18 granted in part a commercial insurer’s motion to dismiss a dentist insured’s lawsuit seeking coverage for its lost income arising from the novel coronavirus pandemic, finding that the insured fails to state a claim, but allowed the insured to amend his complaint and conduct discovery into his alter-ego theory.
SAN FRANCISCO — Small businesses that own and operate Minor League Baseball (MiLB) teams on Feb. 8 asked the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to reverse a lower federal court’s dismissal of their breach of contract and declaratory judgment lawsuit seeking business interruption coverage for their losses arising from the novel coronavirus pandemic.
AKRON, Ohio — Granting an insurer’s motion to dismiss a breach of contract and bad faith lawsuit, a federal judge in Ohio on Feb. 17 held that although a restaurant owner insured plausibly alleged that governmental shutdown orders and the possible or actual presence of the novel coronavirus interfered with its intended use of its restaurant properties, the properties were not materially or perceptibly destroyed, harmed or ruined and remain in the insured’s possession.
GOSHEN, N.Y. — A New York justice on Feb. 12 dismissed a bus contractor insured’s breach of contract lawsuit seeking coverage under an “all risk” commercial property insurance policy for its business interruption losses and extra expenses incurred as a direct result of governmental shutdown orders in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic, finding that under state law, there is no “business income/extra expense” coverage in the absence of “direct physical loss or damage” to the insured’s premises.
ST. LOUIS — A federal judge in Missouri on Feb. 16 held that “the great weight of authority supports” insurers’ argument that “direct physical loss of” requires that “some physical event” occurs on the insureds’ properties, granting the insurers’ motion for judgment on the pleadings in a breach of contract and bad faith coverage lawsuit arising from the novel coronavirus pandemic.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Granting a commercial property insurer’s motion for partial summary judgment, a federal judge in Kentucky on Feb. 16 held that no coverage is owed for a restaurant insured’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) units that were damaged by a hailstorm because the units were not “leased personal property” that the insured had a “contractual responsibility to insure.”
SAN FRANCISCO — One day after an insurer filed an answering brief in the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals challenging a retailer insured’s appeal of a federal judge’s dismissal of its class complaint seeking coverage under a comprehensive business insurance policy for its claimed losses following the state’s “Stay at Home” order in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic, United Policyholders on Feb. 9 said its amicus support is “especially vital” in the case “because the issues implicated by this case are far-reaching and of critical importance, as they may affect the fate of insurance recoveries for small businesses throughout California.”
BATON ROUGE, La. — A federal judge in Louisiana on Feb. 10 denied a Write-Your-Own (WYO) insurer’s motion to exclude the plaintiffs’ designated expert in a consolidated flood coverage dispute, finding that the insured’s motion is “substantively identical” to another insurer’s motion in limine in lawsuits that present common questions of fact and law and arise out of the same flood.
MINEOLA, N.Y. — A New York justice on Feb. 8 dismissed an insured’s lawsuit seeking coverage for its losses arising from the closure of its movie theater in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic, concurring “with the majority view” that the insured’s loss of use of its premises because of the coronavirus-related shutdown orders does not constitute “direct physical loss of or damage to the property” under the policy and further noting that the insured fails to assert that it inquired about insurance coverage for government closures related to a pandemic.
NEWARK, N.J. — No coverage is owed for business losses sustained by an ophthalmology practice in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic because a virus exclusion in the applicable policy applies as a bar to coverage, a New Jersey federal judge said Feb. 8.
ST. LOUIS — Property insurance policies are written to protect against damage and do not extend to business interruption caused by the likes of the novel coronavirus, two insurance advocacy groups told an Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel in a Jan. 20 amicus curiae brief.
BATON ROUGE, La. — An insurer’s arguments to exclude an expert witness in a breach of contract suit involving a flood insurance policy go to weight of the evidence, not its admissibility under Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharm., Inc., a Louisiana federal judge ruled Jan. 28, denying the motion.
DALLAS — A Texas federal judge on Feb. 9 granted a commercial property insurer’s motion to dismiss its restaurant insured’s lawsuit seeking business interruption coverage for its losses arising from the novel coronavirus after determining that the insured failed to allege facts in support of its breach of contract and bad faith claims; however, the judge said the insured is permitted to file a third amended complaint.
ATLANTA — An insured on Feb. 2 asked the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to reverse a lower federal court’s dismissal of its breach of contract lawsuit seeking coverage for its business losses that were “directly caused” by government “stay-at-home” orders in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic, arguing that the lower court’s “ruling threatens to cause grave and in many cases irreparable harm to Florida’s small business community already suffering from the pandemic’s impact.”
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — A federal magistrate judge on Feb. 5 recommended that a Florida federal court deny motions for summary judgment by an insured and its insurer in a coverage dispute arising from damage to 61-foot yacht caused by Hurricane Dorian, finding that neither party has demonstrated whether the insured’s breach of the Captain Warranty "increased the hazard by any means within the control of the insured.”