A New Jersey trial court recently denied an insurer’s motion to dismiss a COVID-19 business interruption suit brought by a group of optometry practices finding unsettled questions under New Jersey law about whether loss of a property’s functional use can constitute “direct physical loss” under a property policy. Optical Services USA/JC1 v. Franklin Mutual Ins. Co., No. BER-L-3681-20 (N.J. Super. Ct. Bergen Cty. Aug. 13, 2020) (transcript). Based on this finding, the court determined that the optometrists were entitled to issue-oriented discovery and to amend their complaint accordingly.

Continue Reading Policyholders Eye Another Victory in Covid-19 Insurance Litigation

On Tuesday, the English High Court will issue its much-anticipated ruling in “test cases” for coverage of business-interruption losses during the COVID-19 pandemic under sample policy wordings. Irrespective of the outcome, the London court’s ruling promises to be a significant development for the insurance markets in the UK, as billions of pounds in potential insurance claims are at stake and––beyond this––policyholders and/or insurance companies can be expected to argue that one or another of the findings supports their position(s) for interpreting similar policy language in future COVID-19 business-interruption coverage cases.

The FCA Test Case

In the first action of its kind since the agency was established in 2013, the British markets regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), engineered the test case process earlier this year to seek legal clarity over insurance companies’ obligations to cover business-interruption claims in the context of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Brought before the English High Court (a trial level court in the UK), the FCA test case involves around 370,000 policyholders and eight insurance companies. The case was heard by Judge Christopher Butcher, who sits in the Commercial Court, and Judge Julian Flaux from the Court of Appeal.  Experienced English counsel prepared and presented arguments to the tribunal for expedited consideration and resolution. The FCA hired a solicitor firm, which instructed well-regarded barristers from Devereux Chambers and Fountain Court Chambers; the insurers engaged their own solicitors and barristers.


Continue Reading Policyholders and Insurers Await Highly Anticipated English High Court Ruling Regarding Coverage for COVID-19 Business-Interruption Losses

As has been widely reported, insurance companies have been inundated with claims arising from the novel coronavirus and are locked into contentious coverage battles regarding the scope of coverage afforded for such claims under various policy forms. Courts have begun issuing decisions both for and against policyholders attempting recovery for COVID-19-related losses, and the legal battles resolving those questions will likely take months or even years to play out.

Continue Reading Insurers Raise D&O Premiums, Restrict Coverage, and Reportedly Leverage Pandemic to Boost Long-Term Profitability

As expanded upon here in our firm’s Three Key Things in Health Care update, health care providers should not let a recent opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal dissuade them from aggressively pursuing recovery for business interruption losses related to COVID. In short, the authors of that editorial ignore the language and structure of

On August 28, Judge Stephen V. Wilson of the Central District of California, entered the latest ruling in the ongoing saga of the COVID-19 business interruption coverage dispute between celebrity plaintiff’s attorney Mark Geragos and Insurer Travelers.

Continue Reading Despite Misapplying California Law, Federal Court Acknowledges Virus May Cause Physical Alteration to Property

On August 13, 2020, the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas granted State Farm Lloyds’ (“State Farm”) motion to dismiss a claim for loss of income resulting from multiple executive orders requiring closure of non-essential businesses in Bexar County, Texas following the COVID-19 pandemic.[1] In doing so, the court admitted that courts across many jurisdictions have found “physical loss” in the absence of tangible destruction to a covered property. However, the court glossed over such analogous cases involving disease-causing agents such as E. coli, ammonia, and asbestos, where those courts found the existence of physical loss.

Continue Reading Texas Federal Court’s Denial of Barber Shops’ COVID-19 Claims Lacks Body and Style

On August 25, 2020, an article by Syed Ahmad and Michael Huggins was run in Mealey’s Insurance concerning the use of direct and circumstantial evidence to show the presence of COVID-19 for purposes of seeking business interruption coverage.  A key takeaway from the article is that direct evidence of COVID-19 at a premises, such as

Hunton special counsel Scott DeVries was quoted August 14 in a Bloomberg Law article titled “More Virus Insurance Suits Could Follow as Consolidation Fails.” The article discussed a federal panel’s refusal to centralize hundreds of businesses’ lawsuits against their insurers over pandemic-related coverage. Elaborating on the ruling, DeVries observed that “Insurance contracts are a matter

Over the past couple of months, we have written on decisions by various European insurers to pay policyholders for their COVID-19 related losses. That positive trend is now moving across continents.

Continue Reading South African Insurers Agree to Pay for COVID-19 Losses