NEW ORLEANS — An all-risk commercial liability insurer did not breach its contract or act in bad faith in denying a claim for business interruption losses caused by the coronavirus pandemic because the insureds did not sustain a direct physical loss to their properties and because the policy’s contamination clause clearly precludes coverage, a Louisiana federal judge said Nov. 19 in granting the insurer’s motion to dismiss.
NEW CASTLE, Del. — Granting an insurer’s motion to dismiss a coronavirus coverage dispute with prejudice, a Delaware judge on Nov. 18 held that the policy’s “Pollution and Contamination” exclusion unambiguously bars coverage for an insured’s economic losses resulting from the coronavirus pandemic and related government shutdowns of its six family entertainment centers and two water parks in three states.
LOS ANGELES — A federal judge in California on Nov. 15 granted insurers’ motion to remand their subrogation lawsuit seeking redress for their insurers’ losses arising from the 2017 Creek Fire, finding that the court lacks jurisdiction because defendant Southern California Edison has failed to establish a substantial federal interest.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The owner and manager of a residential development on Nov. 10 filed a petition for writ of certiorari in the U.S. Supreme Court seeking the high court’s review of a lower court’s order compelling arbitration of an insurance coverage dispute against English underwriters for $5.66 million in Hurricane Harvey damage, arguing that the lower court’s ruling “requires Washington policyholders to arbitrate disputes with foreign insurance companies, notwithstanding a Washington statute that invalidates arbitration agreements in insurance contracts.”
NEW ORLEANS — The Louisiana Supreme Court on Nov. 17 denied an insured’s application for a writ of certiorari seeking review of an appeals court ruling in favor of a homeowners insurer in its bad faith lawsuit arising from a roof damage claim, refusing to disturb the appeals court’s finding that the trial court was within its discretion in qualifying two witnesses as experts.
NORFOLK, Va. — A federal judge in Virginia on Oct. 26 granted an insurer’s motion to dismiss a first amended class action complaint brought by a group of Anytime Fitness franchise owners seeking coverage for the negative impact on their business caused by the government shutdown orders in response to the coronavirus pandemic, finding that the insureds incurred “no direct or physical loss” that entitles them to recovery.
ORLANDO, Fla. — In a Nov. 5 opinion, a federal judge in Florida denied an insured hotel operator’s motions during trial for a mistrial, sanctions, a new trial and judgment as a matter of law in an insurance dispute stemming from the insured’s alleged filing of a fraudulent commercial property insurance claim for a hotel allegedly damaged by Hurricane Irma, ruling that the insured failed to sufficiently show that it was entitled to any of the relief it sought.
SAN DIEGO — Identifying an issue of first impression, a California appeals panel on Nov. 15 found that a commercial property insurance policy does not provide coverage for five lodging facilities’ lost business income caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
SAN FRANCISCO — Five Major League Baseball teams based in California on Nov. 8 filed an amicus curiae brief in support of a retailer insured’s petition for a rehearing of the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals’ ruling that affirmed a lower federal court’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 coronavirus pandemic, arguing that the panel “should defer to the California courts on a quintessential issue of state law like the meaning of insurance policy language.”
MIAMI — The same day an engineering firm moved for a Maryland federal court to dismiss two insurers’ lawsuit disputing coverage for underlying actions brought by victims of the June 24 partial collapse of a Surfside, Fla., condominium high-rise, it filed its own suit in a Florida court on Oct. 5 seeking a declaration as to coverage.
CINCINNATI — The Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Nov. 5 affirmed a lower federal court’s dismissal of 17 private preschool insureds’ breach of contract and bad faith lawsuit against their insurer, finding that they did not plausibly allege that there was an “actual illness” from COVID-19 at their insured facilities and never plausibly pleaded that Ohio’s shutdown order was “due directly” to anything that happened at their covered premises.
HOUSTON — A Texas federal judge on Nov. 2 dismissed claims for unfair settlement practices, negligent misrepresentation, quasi-estoppel and punitive damages against an all-risk insurer after determining that the insured, seeking coverage for mold and other property damages caused by Hurricane Harvey, failed to show that the insurer misrepresented any facts or acted unfairly or in bad faith in handling the claim.
TRENTON, N.J. — A New Jersey appeals panel on Nov. 5 found that a lower court abused its discretion by not making findings and offering “a bare explanation” when it granted an insurer’s motion to dismiss a snowstorm coverage lawsuit with prejudice for the insured’s failure to provide discovery pursuant to New Jersey Court Rule 4:23-5, vacating the dismissal order and reinstating the insured’s complaint.
MIAMI — A Florida judge on Nov. 4 allowed insurers to refund the entire $175,000 premium of a commercial property insurance policy for the benefit of the victims of the Surfside, Fla., condominium collapse, discharging insurers of and from all obligations under the insurance policy.
LAKELAND, Fla. — A Florida appeals panel on Oct. 27 reversed a lower court’s order staying a breach of contract lawsuit against an insurer and compelling appraisal of a condominium association insured’s supplemental claim for damage caused by Hurricane Irma, finding that the directive was premature.
ORLANDO, Fla. — A federal judge in Florida on Nov. 1 granted an insurer’s motion to dismiss a countercomplaint brought by the owner and operator of a network of nearly 80 restaurants throughout the country in a coronavirus coverage lawsuit, finding that the countercomplaint fails to state a claim for declaratory relief because there is no “actual controversy” as to the interpretation of “direct physical loss” pursuant to Georgia law.
SAN FRANCISCO — A retailer insured on Oct. 29 filed a petition for a rehearing en banc of the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals’ ruling earlier in the month that affirmed a lower federal court’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 coronavirus pandemic, arguing that the recurring question of whether “physical loss or damage” includes the loss of use or function of property that is not structurally altered or damaged is of exceptional importance to California businesses “never more so than now.”
PHILADELPHIA — A Pennsylvania federal judge on Oct. 20 denied an insured’s motion to remand its suit against a commercial property insurer and an environmental liability insurer because the insured failed to show that there are any novel or unsettled issues of state law regarding its suit seeking a declaration that the insurers owe coverage for losses sustained as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A federal court in Missouri on Oct. 28 entered judgment in favor of a commercial property insurer the same day a jury found in the insurer’s favor in a breach of contract lawsuit brought by the owner of several Kansas City restaurants and bars that were forced to close or reduce their operations as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A California appeals court panel on Oct 15 affirmed a lower court’s summary judgment ruling in favor of an insurer in an insured’s breach of contract and bad faith lawsuit arising from the Boles wildfire, finding that the evidence does not create a triable issue of material fact regarding whether the policy entitled the insured to more than she actually spent to build her replacement house.