As the United States battle vs. COVID-19 rages on, the battle within the (albeit virtual) court rooms are just starting to take off. Courts across the country are faced with the ultimate question: whether the widespread presence of the COVID-19 virus and resulting governmental closure orders constitute a fortuitous loss causing direct physical loss to insured property owners’ properties.
Continue Reading Ambiguities in Civil Authority Insurance Coverage for COVID-19 Business Losses: “Prohibiting,” “Preventing,” “Denying” – What is the Difference?

The Insurance Services Office (commonly referred to as the “ISO”) is involved with virtually person, business, association, and governmental entity in the United States. Most people have no idea what it is and how important of a role it plays in the background of risk, finance, and insurance. Today, many businesses want transparency in the form of internal documents to know what role it played making all risk business interruption policy forms and virus exclusions which insurers claim allegedly does not afford coverage for their income losses caused by COVID-19.
Continue Reading What is the Insurance Services Office?

The first lawsuit and first tried case regarding the business interruption issues related to COVID-19 was won by the insurance carrier. Here is a copy of the brief Order finding in favor of the insurer.

Regardless of the outcome, my hat is off to John Houghtaling for bringing the action and being a relentless advocate for policyholders in the courtroom and in the halls of Congress. He deserves to receive the Policyholder Attorney of the Year at the Win The Storm Conference which will be held in New Orleans at the end of the month.
Continue Reading Chip At @2 Will Be At 2:30 With Update on New Orleans Oceana COVID Trial Won By the Insurer

Insurance business interruption coverage has terms, philosophies, and calculations which are foreign to many. Lawyers for insurers will often challenge me by asking for a case which says their interpretation for some practice is wrong while looking for every manner “to win” by paying as little as possible. This mindset is what lead to a number of judges being duped into believing and ruling that the insurance industry meant that a business had to completely shut down in order to prove that business operations were “suspended.”
Continue Reading Suspension of Business Was Never Intended to Mean Total Cessation of Business Operations—Insurance Lawyers Duping Judges into Wrong Insurance Contract Interpretations

Since 1991, United Policyholders has been a voice for policyholders and an organization that has taken action in legislative, judicial, and consumer venues to assist policyholders and promote policyholders’ best interests. One example is their Amicus Project. They have written appellate briefs in 42 states and in more than 450 cases. United Policyholders briefs have been cited by numerous state supreme courts and the United States Supreme Court. Last week, United Policyholders filed an amicus brief in the Mama Jo’s case. The case and the Petition for review to the United States Supreme Court was recently discussed by Iris Kuhn in, Restaurant Asks U.S. Supreme Court to Hear Appeal of Eleventh Circuit’s Ruling on “Direct Physical Loss.”
Continue Reading United Policyholders Notes How the Mama Jo’s Case Was Wrongly Decided and Now Harming Proper Legal Analysis of Business Interruption Coverage Cases

Courts across the country have split on the key COVID-19 coverage question of whether a policyholder’s inability to fully operate its business caused by COVID-19 restrictions would satisfy the policy’s business interruption coverage requirement that the “loss” had to be a result from a “suspension of operations” caused by “direct physical loss of or damage to covered property.”
Continue Reading Multi-District Litigation Policyholders Win a Business Interruption Coverage Battle Over “Direct Physical Loss”

The efficient resolution of civil litigation in time and money should be a concern of all attorneys and judges. The first time I met Rene Sigman was in a Galveston, Texas, courthouse where the judge had just asked lawyers for suggestions on how to streamline discovery for thousands of cases following Hurricane Ike in 2008. While Rene was not with our firm at that time, she was very vocal about what worked to get the evidence insurers did not want to turn over and how to do it quickly. I am proud that she is now a member of our firm and volunteers her time to help make the civil justice system better by working with The Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System on catastrophe protocols to be followed in litigation. She worked on the most recent protocols involving the COVID-19 business interruption lawsuits.
Continue Reading Business Interruption Discovery for COVID-19 Lawsuits—Suggested Protocols for Judges to Follow

We are happy to share with the insurance world a very positive development on COVID-19 Business Interruption cases – from Orange County, a conservative jurisdiction. The credit for this victory goes to our friends at Covington & Burling LLP, who we have been working closely with to advance justice for policyholders. A special shout-out is owed to Rani Gupta, Joan Li, David Goodwin, and Jad Khazem for this win, as the specific allegations of physical alteration were the driving force behind the victory and are instructive for future success.
Continue Reading Court Rules in Favor of Goodwill on COVID-19 Business Interruption Matter

Across the country claims for business income loss presented by policyholders to their insurers and the suits that follow for business interruption caused by COVID-19 and government regulatory closures have not fared well. Most policyholders who have suffered a suspension of business operations have been denied their policy claims when relying on policy clauses covering “direct physical loss of or physical damage” to the policyholders’ place of business. Likewise, when these denied claims become lawsuits, some courts have dismissed cases based on an interpretation that the coronavirus cannot cause property damage at the policyholder’s place of business.
Continue Reading Barbershop Allowed to Pursue Business Interruption Loss Caused by COVID-19 Pursuant to a Policy Provision Containing Time Element Coverage