The French Laundry coronavirus lawsuit was noted in yesterday’s post, Coronavirus Insurance Coverage Update March 27—The French Laundry Files Suit Against Its Insurer Over Coronavirus Business Closure Claim Denial. John Houghtaling was kind to provide me a copy of the filing for our readers.

I noted that the tactic of using declaratory judgment filings as relief could be ingenious because it potentially speeds up the critical issue central to so many and not just the two restaurants Houghtaling has sued on behalf of. A University of Oklahoma law review article noted the history of the federal declaratory judgment act and pointed that these legal vehicles arguably allowed parties to hear their disputes sooner in support of Congress’ passing the declaration act legislation:

[S]econd, by permitting courts to hear claims sooner than might otherwise be possible— that is, requiring only that a genuine dispute exist between the parties..

Remember RTFP? Read The Full Policy before making a coverage decision. I say this because I was sent the following Farmers endorsement:

I was asked if this was a winning policy for a restaurant that was shut down from the coronavirus. I can be very aggressive and persuasive arguing for coverage. I do this all day long and I want to find coverage and win for the restaurant victims of this crisis. Merlin Law Group attorneys will gladly review commercial policies for coverage regarding this disaster and not charge by the billable hour just to say if we will take the case.

But we need the full policy and then some facts. A policy with this endorsement is a big help. But, before anybody, and in most of these situations it should be somebody with a law degree, tells a policyholder that there is coverage, the professional doing so needs to RTFP.

By the way, the “F” can change meaning depending on how often the policy is asked for or how many times I have to tell others to RTFP.

For those of you who missed yesterday’s post, Tuesday’s At Two With Chip Merlin—An Insurance Coverage Discussion About Property Insurance Claims, Merlin Law Group will be hosting a free livestream insurance coverage show next Tuesday at 2 PM EST. This ”free” insurance coverage discussion is worth a lot more than the “for money” insurance coverage webinars and will certainly be a lot more fun. Those of you who come to my insurance converge speeches know what I mean, except the new logistics make it so I cannot answer cell phone calls to an audience member. That improv went something like this:

Ed’s Cell Phone ringing

Chip picks up Ed’s phone before Ed could grab it

Chip—“Hey, this is Chip Merlin, who is this?”

Dan—“This is Dan, is Ed there?”

Chip—“He sure is. His eyes are pretty big right now, but he is wondering what you are calling about and so are about three hundred of Ed’s friends.”

Dan—“He said he wanted to get together this afternoon and go over some things on the claim.”

Chip—“He did? He didn’t tell you he was with me this afternoon. He should have told you to come along here and you would be having a lot of fun, too! Sorry.”


Now you know why my West Coast friends like to “get in the mood” before my insurance coverage speeches.

While what we do is very serious work for policyholders needing our help, has a lot riding on how well we do our job and is not easy because the insurance companies have some very well paid and smart attorneys battling us, those passionate about learning from one another should be having fun doing so. I hope that my posts for you always are a little bit that way.

Thought For A Saturday Afternoon

You know what I want to do? Wake up one weekend and not have to go anywhere and do nothing.
—Derek Jeter

Song For A Saturday Night