FORT MYERS, Fla. — A federal magistrate judge in Florida on Sept. 15 granted insureds' motion to compel compliance with discovery and for sanctions in a breach of contract lawsuit arising from Hurricane Irma damage, finding that an award of expenses to the insureds is "just and appropriate" (William Bradley Bell, et al. v. Ace Insurance Company of the Midwest, No. 20-309 M.D. Fla., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 164805).
LEXINGTON, Ky. — A chief federal judge in Kentucky on Sept. 16 dismissed Gov. Andy Beshear from an insured's lawsuit seeking a declaration that the insured's temporary closure pursuant to the governor's executive order prompted by the novel coronavirus triggered coverage, finding that the result of this coverage dispute "will have no effect on Governor Beshear's legal rights" (J&H Lanmark, Inc. v. Twin City Fire Insurance Company, et al., No. 20-333, E.D. Ky.).
NEW ORLEANS — The Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Sept. 16 held that a lower court erred in finding that Chavez v. State Farm Lloyds, 746 F. App'x 337 (5th Cir. 2018), barred insureds' claims for an 18 percent penalty and attorney fees under the Texas Prompt Payment of Claims Act, finding that Chavez "is no longer good law on this point" (Jesus Agredano, et al. v. State Farm Lloyds, No. 19-50656, 5th Cir.).
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A Florida appeals panel on Sept. 9 held that a lower court erred in granting summary judgment in favor of a homeowners insurer on "the sole ground" that the insured failed to submit a supplemental claim for his personal property loss caused by Hurricane Irma, partially reversing the lower court (Brandon Goldberg v. Universal Property and Casualty Insurance Company, No. 4D19-3202, Fla. App., 4th Dist., 2020 Fla. App. LEXIS 12720).
SAN FRANCISCO — A federal judge in California on Sept. 14 dismissed without prejudice all claims in a retailer insured's class complaint against its insurer, finding that the insured is not entitled to business income, extra expense or civil authority coverage as a matter of law for its claimed losses following the state's "Stay at Home" order in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic, granting the insured leave to amend because the law regarding "business interruption coverage linked to the COVID-19 pandemic is very much in development" (Mudpie, Inc. v. Travelers Casualty Insurance Company of America, No. 20-03213, N.D. Calif.).
HARTFORD, Conn. — A lower court was wrong to find that two business risk exclusions relieved a commercial general liability insurer of its duty to defend property damage from the collapse of a house following repairs from hurricanes, the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled Sept. 9, reversing the entry of summary judgment to the insurer (Nash Street, LLC v. Main Street America Assurance Company, et al., No. SC 20389, Conn. Sup., 2020 Conn. LEXIS 197).
SEATTLE — The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Sept. 9 held that the expenses incurred by insureds to comply with the city of Mercer Island, Wash., following a landslide were "damages" for which the insureds were "legally liable," affirming a lower federal court's grant of partial summary judgment in favor of a homeowners insurer (Michael S. Wampold, et al. v. Safeco Insurance Company of America, No. 19-35972, 9th Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 28486).
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The Florida Supreme Court, without explanation, on Sept. 4 declined to exercise jurisdiction over an insured's sinkhole claim dispute with the Florida Insurance Guaranty Association (FIGA), substituting for an insolvent insurer, with regard to a lower court's application of a 2016 decision to the issue of attorney fees and costs (Phylis Heid v. Florida Insurance Guaranty Association, No. SC20-912, Fla. Sup., 2020 Fla. LEXIS 1481).
NEW YORK — A Manhattan law firm on Aug. 19 voluntarily dismissed without prejudice its class action alleging in a New York federal court that its “all risk” commercial property insurer breached their contract by refusing to pay claims related to the novel coronavirus (Siegel & Siegel, et al. v. Hartford Casualty Insurance Company, No. 20-04993, S.D. N.Y.).
LOS ANGELES — A Los Angeles resident on Aug. 19 filed a notice of voluntary dismissal without prejudice of his class action complaint alleging in a California federal court that an insurance policy specifically covered his trip cancellation due to California’s civil authority orders in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic (Richard Robbins v. Generali Global Assistance, Inc., et al., No. 20-04904, C.D. Calif.).
By Scott M. Seaman and Judith A. Selby
HARRISBURG, Pa. — An all-risk commercial insurer on Sept. 2 moved to dismiss a self-proclaimed "mom and pop" South Carolina restaurant owner's class action for denying its claim for coverage for its business closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic, arguing that the insured has failed to allege "direct physical loss of or damage" to the property and that the policy's virus exclusion bars coverage (Richard Kahn, et al. v. Pennsylvania National Mutual Casualty Insurance Company, No. 20-00781, M.D. Pa.).
MIAMI — A French reinsurance company on Sept. 3 moved to dismiss a theater operator's proposed class action in a Florida federal court for pandemic loss, saying the reinsurer was not a party to an all-risk insurance policy and cannot be held liable for the acts of its second-tier subsidiary (Actors Playhouse Productions, Inc. v. SCOR Se, et al., No. 20-22981, S.D. Fla.).
FORT MYERS, Fla. — A federal judge in Florida on Sept. 2 granted a commercial insurer's motion to dismiss a dentist insured's breach of contract and declaratory judgment lawsuit arising from the novel coronavirus and subsequent governmental closure orders, finding that the policy expressly bars coverage from damages that are caused by a virus (Mauricio Martinez v. Allied Insurance Company of America, No. 20-00401, M.D. Fla.).
LOS ANGELES — Insurers named as defendants in a breach of contract and bad faith lawsuit stemming from their denial of a lost business coverage claim filed by the operator of a nail salon that was forced to close during the novel coronavirus pandemic on Aug. 28 asked a federal judge in California to dismiss their insured's complaint, arguing that the insured failed to plead any basis for coverage under the terms of the policy he purchased (Thomas Phan v. Nationwide General Insurance Co., et al., No. 20-7616, C.D. Calif.).
LAKELAND, Fla. — A Florida appeals panel on Sept. 4 held that a homeowners insurer's invocation of an appraisal under the policy and subsequent payment of the appraisal award after the expiration of the statutory cure period did not, as a matter of law, cure the insurer's alleged violation of failing to attempt to settle the insureds' Hurricane Irma property damage claim in good faith, reversing a lower court and remanding for further proceedings so the insureds can pursue their bad faith action (Patti Fortune, et al. v. First Protective Insurance Company, No. 2D19-2209, Fla. App., 2nd Dist., 2020 Fla. App. LEXIS 12540).
BAY CITY, Mich. — A federal judge in Michigan on Sept. 3 dismissed with prejudice a chiropractor insured's class action complaint challenging property insurers' "systematic and uniform refusal to pay insureds" for their losses arising from Michigan's March 24 executive order and related actions that suspended business operations in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic, finding that the insured failed to demonstrate that it suffered an "accidental direct physical loss to Covered Property" and that the virus exclusion also barred coverage (Turek Enterprises, Inc. v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company, et al., No. 20-11655, E.D. Mich.).
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A federal judge in Texas on Aug. 31 granted a group of insurers' motions to compel arbitration of a Texas county's claims regarding payments for damages sustained during Hurricane Harvey and stayed the county's lawsuit pending arbitration, which the court found would be appropriate in light of the arbitration provision contained in the insurance policy and Fifth Circuit precedent (Nueces County, Texas v. Certain Underwriters at Lloyd's of London, et al., No. 20-65, S.D. Texas).
BOSTON — Integrand Assurance Co.'s liquidator on Aug. 11 dismissed an appeal with the First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals and agreed to arbitrate with reinsurers a $150 million hurricane loss dispute (Integrand Assurance Co. v. Everest Reinsurance Co., et al., No. 20-1534, 1st Cir.).
PHOENIX — A federal judge in Arizona on Aug. 28 denied an insured homeowners' motion to remand a breach of contract and bad faith case after determining that the insurer met its burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that the amount in controversy exceeds the federal jurisdictional minimum requirement of $75,000 (Brian Haire v. Liberty Insurance Corp., No. 20-686, D. Ariz., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 156309).