PHILADELPHIA — A federal judge in Pennsylvania on Jan. 11 declined to exercise jurisdiction over a bowling alley insured’s declaratory judgment lawsuit against its insurer, noting that because of the “relative recency” of the novel coronavirus pandemic, “Pennsylvania state courts have not yet developed a body of case law applicable to the state law issues presented in this case.”
DENVER — The 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Jan. 11 affirmed a lower federal court’s ruling that a homeowners insurance policy’s “earth movement” exclusion barred coverage for Colorado insureds’ property damage that was caused by a rockfall, further affirming the court’s denial of the insureds’ motion to certify five coverage questions of law to the Colorado Supreme Court.
NEWARK, N.J. — An insurer on Jan. 7 moved a New Jersey federal court to dismiss a breach of contract and reformation lawsuit brought by the owners of more than 120 franchise locations under the brands Wendy's, T.G.I. Friday's, Marriott and Hilton, contending that although the novel coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent “Stay-at Home” orders “have had an adverse economic impact” on the insureds’ business operations, “claims for such intangible economic damage simply are not within the scope of the property insurance policy.”
SAN FRANCISCO — A retailer insured on Jan. 7 asked the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to certify a question to the California Supreme Court in its lawsuit 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, arguing that “profound legal, economic, and practical consequences will follow from the determination of whether the phrase ‘physical loss of or damage to’ in business interruption insurance policies reasonably includes government-imposed shutdown orders issued amid COVID-19.”
NEW YORK — A New York justice on Dec. 23 denied an insurance broker’s motion for summary judgment seeking dismissal of an insured’s claim that it failed to procure the insured’s requested business interruption coverage, finding that the complaint “cannot be dismissed on the basis that no special relationship arose between the parties."
HOUSTON — A Texas federal judge on Dec. 29 determined that extracontractual claims asserted against a businessowners insurer cannot proceed because the insured failed to prove that the insurer or its representatives were biased against the insured when processing its claim for damages sustained during Hurricane Harvey.
LOS ANGELES — A federal judge in California on Dec. 30 granted a commercial general liability insurer’s motion to dismiss a hand and orthopedic surgery practice insured’s breach of contract and bad faith lawsuit, finding that the insurance policy’s “loss of or damage to” language does not allow coverage for the interruption of the insured’s business as a result of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
HOUSTON — Enforcing a commercial property insurance policy’s appraisal provision as written in a coverage dispute over property damage caused by Tropical Storm Imelda, a federal judge in Texas on Dec. 22 ordered appraisers to “state separately the value of the property and the amount of loss” and further ordered that if the appraisers cannot agree on an umpire, either one may ask the court to select an umpire.
MIAMI — A federal judge in Florida on Dec. 31 granted a federal flood insurer’s motion for summary judgment in an insured’s breach of contract lawsuit seeking coverage under a Standard Flood Insurance Policy (SFIP) for a second supplemental claim for Hurricane Irma damage, finding that the insured failed to submit a timely proof of loss for his subsequent claim and failed to obtain a Federal Emergency Management Agency waiver of the one-year deadline.
MIAMI — Adopting a magistrate’s report and recommendation, a federal judge in Florida on Dec. 31 granted a write-your-own insurer’s motion for summary judgment in its insureds’ breach of contract lawsuit arising from Hurricane Irma flood damage, finding that the insureds failed to cite any legal precedent demonstrating that an insurer's knowledge of an estimate that was prepared by the adjuster for a separate insurer of a different insured sufficiently satisfied the Standard Flood Insurance Policy’s (SFIP) strict proof-of-loss requirement.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) had $1.15 billion of its risk transferred to the private reinsurance market to assist with catastrophic flood losses, according to a Jan. 5 press release from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPMDL) on Dec. 15 centralized lawsuits seeking travel insurance coverage for losses arising from the forced cancellation of travel plans due to the novel coronavirus pandemic in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York and centralized COVID-19 business interruption coverage lawsuits against Erie Insurance Co. in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania.
SAN JOSE, Calif. — A business insurance policy’s virus exclusion bars coverage for business income losses sustained by a dental practice as a result of the shutdown of nonessential businesses to help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus because the exclusion precludes coverage for any loss caused by a virus, a California federal judge said Dec. 30 in granting, without prejudice, the insurer’s motion to dismiss.
MIAMI — No coverage is owed to an insured salon and medical spa for business losses sustained as a result of shutdown orders issued in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic because the insured failed to show that it sustained a direct physical loss to its insured property, a Florida federal judge said Dec. 30 in granting the insurers’ motion to dismiss.
NEW ORLEANS — A federal judge in Louisiana in a Dec. 9 order granted a motion to compel arbitration of a property owner’s dispute with its insurers over claims for rain and wind damage and dismissed the owner’s claims without prejudice after finding that the insurance policy’s arbitration clause falls under the New York Convention and, therefore, is not rendered void by Louisiana’s statute barring arbitration of insurance claim disputes (1010 Common, LLC v. Certain Underwriters At Lloyd's London, et al., No. 20-2326, E.D. La. 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 233867).
NEW YORK — A $500,000 jury award for a Staten Island owner of a 96-unit apartment complex regarding damages from Hurricane Irene was reduced to $404,671 against an insurer in rehabilitation after a New York justice on Nov. 25 applied the policy’s coinsurance provision and a deductible to the jury’s award (25 Bay Terrace Associates, L.P. v. Public Service Mutual Insurance Company, No. 451952/2020, N.Y. Sup., New York Co., 2020 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 10190).
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — An insurer owes no coverage for business losses sustained by a business owner as a result of shutdown orders issued to slow down the spread of the novel coronavirus because the insured suffered no direct physical loss and because the policy’s pollution or contamination exclusion clearly bars coverage, a Missouri federal judge said Dec. 2 (Zwillo V. Corp., et al. v. Lexington Insurance Co., No. 20-339, W.D. Mo., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 230672).
OAKLAND, Calif. — A California federal judge on Dec. 10 granted an insurer’s motion to dismiss after determining that a policy’s virus exclusion clearly precludes coverage for business losses sustained as a result of shutdown orders issued to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus (HealthNOW Medical Center v. State Farm General Insurance Co., No. 20-4340, N.D. Calif., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 232626).
LOS ANGELES — “One of the largest talent agencies in the world” sued its commercial property insurers in a California court on Nov. 13 for breach of contract and bad faith, alleging that they are “part of the Chubb group of insurance companies” that “has adopted a universal practice of denying coverage for all business interruption claims associated with SARS-CoV-2, Covid-19, and subsequent events” (United Talent Agency, LLC v. Vigilant Insurance Company, et al., No. 20STCV43745, Calif. Super., Los Angeles Co.).
PHILADELPHIA — A federal judge in Pennsylvania said on Dec. 7 that although he sympathizes with a dentist insured, he cannot ignore that the insured purchased a commercial property insurance policy that does not cover the losses it incurred as a result of the novel coronavirus (Kessler Dental Associates, P.C. v. The Dentists Insurance Company, No. 20-03376, E.D. Pa., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 228859).