DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — A Florida appeals panel held April 3 that an insurer was entitled to enforce the appraisal provision in its homeowners insurance policy because it did not wholly deny coverage for storm damage to the insureds’ roof, reversing a lower court’s denial of the insurer’s motion to compel appraisal and remanding (State Farm Florida Insurance Company v. Speed Dry, Inc., No. 5D18-3581, Fla. App., 5th Dist., 2020 Fla. App. LEXIS 4420).
MIAMI — One day after insureds and their federal flood insurer announced that they reached a settlement of their Hurricane Irma coverage dispute, a federal judge in Florida on March 31 issued a final order of dismissal with prejudice of the insureds’ lawsuit (Christine And Mark Lux v. Wright National Flood Insurance Company, No. 19-10002, S.D. Fla., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 57301).
BROOKLYN, N.Y. — A New York appeals panel on March 25 reversed a lower court’s ruling in favor of a homeowners insurer in a breach of contract lawsuit arising from Superstorm Sandy damage, finding that the insurer’s expert submissions demonstrated the existence of a triable issue of fact regarding what caused the insureds’ loss (Martin J. Ain, et al. v. Allstate Insurance Co., No. 2017-04188, N.Y. Sup., App. Div., 2nd Dept., 2020 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 2106).
NEW ORLEANS — The Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on March 30 found that a homeowners insurer had an arguable basis to depreciate labor costs for an insurer’s storm damage claim because the law on the question of interpreting “actual cash value” in Mississippi is unsettled, reversing a lower federal court’s denial of the insurer’s motion to dismiss the insured’s tort claims but affirming the lower court’s refusal to dismiss the breach of contract claim (Lorine Mitchell v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Company, No. 18-60776 consolidated with No. 19-60201, 5th Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 9874).
CHICAGO — A group of restaurant and movie theater owners and operators claim in a March 27 complaint filed in Illinois federal court that their insurer breached its contracts and acted in bad faith in denying the insureds’ claims for business interruption losses sustained as a result of the state-ordered shutdown of nonessential businesses in Illinois in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic (Big Onion Tavern Group LLC et al., v. Society Insurance Inc., No. 20-2005, N.D. Ill.).
DURANT, Okla. — Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma is one of two Native American Indian tribes to sue its insurers on March 24 in an Oklahoma court, arguing that they are responsible for its losses and expenses related to the COVID-19 infection and coronavirus pandemic that has allegedly damaged its property and prevented it from being used for its intended purpose (Choctaw Nation Department of Commerce v. Lexington Insurance Co., et al., No. 20-35, Okla. Dist., Bryan Co.).
MIAMI — A Florida appeals panel on March 18 reversed a lower court’s order that granted a directed verdict in favor of insureds in a Hurricane Wilma coverage dispute and ordered a new trial to allow the insurer an opportunity to challenge the insured on the issue of causation (Citizens Property Insurance Corporation v. Kings Creek South Condo, Inc., No. 3D18-661, Fla. App., 3rd Dist., 2020 Fla. App. LEXIS 3493).
NAPA, Calif. — Owners, operators and managers of two Napa Valley, Calif., restaurants on March 25 sued their insurers in a California superior court, seeking a declaration that their insurance policy provides coverage for any current and future civil authority closures of Napa County restaurants because of physical loss or damage from the coronavirus and provides business income coverage in the event that coronavirus has caused a loss or damage at their restaurants (French Laundry Partners, LP, et al. v. Hartford Fire Insurance Company, et al., Calif. Super., Napa Co.).
ADA, Okla. — The Chickasaw Nation Department of Commerce on March 24 sued its insurers in Oklahoma court, seeking a declaration that its insurance policies cover its losses and expenses that are related to the coronavirus pandemic and COVID-19 infection (Chickasaw Nation Department of Commerce v. Lexington Insurance Co., et al., No. 20-35, Okla. Dist., Pontotoc Co.).
KEY WEST, Fla. — A federal judge in Florida on March 12 entered a final judgment in favor of a federal flood insurer in an insured’s breach of contract lawsuit over Hurricane Irma damage, finding that the insured did not satisfy its burden to “prove the specific, additional amount owed” pursuant to its Standard Flood Insurance Policy (SFIP) (Islamorada Leisure Properties, Inc. v. Bankers Insurance Group, No. 18-10186, S.D. Fla., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 44422).
ORLANDO, Fla. — A federal judge in Florida on March 12 entered a judgment awarding insureds $17,070 in attorney fees and $430 in costs in their Hurricane Irma coverage dispute with their homeowners insurer one day after entering an order adopting a magistrate’s report and recommendation and overruling the insureds’ objection to the magistrate’s finding that they could not recover a $4,200 expert witness fee (Bruce Crossman, et al. v. USAA Casualty Insurance Company, No. 18-1301, M.D. Fla.).
LAKELAND, Fla. — An insured asks a Florida appeals court in a March 23 motion to rehear her dispute over attorney fees related to her sinkhole claim with the Florida Insurance Guaranty Association (FIGA), substituting for an insolvent insurer, because the court misapprehended a 2016 decision by the Florida Supreme Court (Phylis Heid v. Florida Insurance Guaranty Association, No. 2D18-737, Fla. App., 2nd Dist.).
LAKELAND, Fla. — Citing a recent decision, a Florida appeals panel on March 25 reversed an attorney fees award in favor of insureds and against Florida Insurance Guaranty Association (FIGA) in a sinkhole claim dispute involving an insolvent insurer (Florida Insurance Guaranty Association v. Jose Valdez, et al., No. 2D18-3789, Fla. App., 2nd Dist., 2020 Fla. App. LEXIS 3844).
LAS VEGAS — Small businesses in Nevada and Illinois on March 23 filed a class action lawsuit against the People’s Republic of China and its various government entities, alleging that they engaged in a cover-up of the novel coronavirus pandemic that caused and will continue to cause class members to suffer reduced revenues and profits and/or the closure of many small businesses throughout the United States (Bella Vista LLC, et al v. The People’s Republic of China, et al., No. 20-00574, D. Nev.).
CINCINNATI — Citing its decision last week in Perry v. Allstate Indem. Co., -- F.3d --, (6th Cir. Mar. 18, 2020), the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held on March 23 that an Ohio insurer may not deduct the costs of labor depreciations because its actual cash value insurance policy did not expressly provide for labor-cost depreciation deductions, reversing and remanding a lower court’s ruling that dismissed an insured’s class complaint (Charles Cranfield v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Company, No. 19-3004, 6th Cir.).
SAN FRANCISCO — A federal judge in California on March 4 dismissed with prejudice insureds’ claims alleging that their homeowners insurer’s undervaluation of insurance policy values was negligent, fraudulent and the product of a conspiracy with the developers of two software programs that were used to determine their initial insurance policy value and the cost to rebuild or repair their property following wildfire damage (Brian Sheahan, et al. v. State Farm General Insurance Company, et al., No. 18-cv-06186, N.D. Calif., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 37590).
NEW ORLEANS — A French Quarter restaurant on March 16 sued its insurer, the state of Louisiana and the governor in a Louisiana court, seeking a declaration that its “all risk” insurance policy “extends coverage from direct physical loss and/or from a civil authority shut-down due to a global pandemic virus” and provides business income coverage if the coronavirus contaminates its restaurant (Cajun Conti LLC, et al. v. Certain Underwriters at Lloyd’s London, et al., No. 20-02558, La. Civ. Dist., Orleans Parish).
LAKELAND, Fla. — A Florida appeals panel on March 13 held that a lower court “departed from the essential requirements of the law” when it ordered a homeowners insurer to produce its investigator’s photographs that were taken during a home inspection related to the insureds’ hurricane water damage claim, quashing the portion of the lower court’s order related to the production of the photographs and remanding with instructions to allow the insurer to file a privilege log within a reasonable time (Avatar Property & Casualty Insurance Company v. Lee Jones, et al., No. 2D19-243, Fla. App., 2nd Dist., 2020 Fla. App. LEXIS 3361).
FLORENCE, S.C. — No coverage is owed under a business interruption insurance policy for losses incurred as a result of a civil authority evacuation order issued prior to Hurricane Florence because the civil authority order was not issued because of damage or destruction of an adjacent property as required by the policy, a South Carolina federal judge said Feb. 24 (Kelaher, Connell & Conner P.C., v. Auto-Owners Insurance Co., No. 19-693, D. S.C., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 31081).
AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas Supreme Court refused to review an appeals court majority’s finding that reversed and remanded a lower court’s ruling awarding summary judgment in favor of a school district insured as to causation and property damage based solely on a $10.8 million appraisal award in a Hurricane Ike coverage dispute, according to its March 13 orders pronounced (Dickinson Independent School District v. Texas Windstorm Insurance Association, No. 18-1092, Texas Sup.).