Two more lawsuits were filed yesterday concerning business interruption losses resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. The plaintiffs, the Chickasaw and Choctaw nations, filed their lawsuits, copies of which can be found here and here, in Oklahoma state court against a litany of property insurers, led by AIG. The lawsuits seek an order that any financial losses suffered by the nations’ casinos, restaurants and other businesses as a result of the coronavirus pandemic are covered by the nations’ insurance policies.
According to the complaints:
On or about March of 2020, the United States of America became infected by COVID 19 resulting in a pandemic. As a result of this pandemic and infection, the Nation’s Property sustained direct physical loss or damage and will continue to sustain direct physical loss or damage covered by the policies, including but not limited to business interruption, extra expense, interruption by civil authority, limitations on ingress and egress, and expenses to reduce loss. As a direct result of this pandemic and infection, the Nation’s Property has been damaged, as described above, and cannot be used for its intended purpose.
According to the Chickasaw and Choctaw nations’ websites, both have temporarily closed their casinos, restaurants and other businesses to help stem the spread of the coronavirus.
The hospitality industry, including hotels, restaurants and casinos, and related travel industries like cruise lines, airlines and other industries dependent on large crowds, have been especially impacted by the pandemic. Insurers have been vocal against the insurability of resulting financial loss under policies affording business interruption coverage. However, insurers’ positions may be based on overly broad assumptions about policy wording and applicable law. In fact, many business interruption losses are covered, and affected policyholders should engage experienced coverage counsel to review their policies and their specific circumstances.