Many businesses that suffered losses during the COVID-19 pandemic have filed claims under their insurance policies. Unfortunately, even though these businesses paid hefty premiums to insure themselves against “business interruption” losses, insurance companies are denying these claims almost across the board for reasons we believe to be inappropriate. As a result, nearly 1,500 lawsuits have been filed by businesses seeking insurance coverage for losses sustained because of government orders related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Slowly but surely, courts across the country have started deciding these cases. While early decisions from across the country seemed to go in favor of insurance companies, the trend in Ohio favors policyholders.
To date, Ohio state and federal judges have overwhelmingly sided with policyholders. Judges in Cuyahoga, Franklin, Summit, Stark, and Hamilton County have all permitted cases to proceed despite insurance companies’ arguments insisting there is no coverage. Recently, one federal judge in Northern Ohio handed a resounding victory to a policyholder in a case that is sure to have implications both in Ohio and nationwide. In Henderson Road Restaurant Systems, Inc. d/b/a Hyde Park Grille, et al. v. Zurich American Ins. Co., United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio Case No. 1:20-cv-01239, Judge Polster ruled that the policyholders’ restaurants were forced to shut down because of various state shutdown orders, and the damages suffered as a result were covered under the insurance policy. Judge Polster also held that policy language is extremely important and insurance companies cannot add requirements not contained in the insurance policy.
Cooper Elliott, with offices in Columbus and Cincinnati, is representing businesses around the country that have suffered devastating losses because of COVID-19, the COVID-19 pandemic, or government shutdown orders. In addition to closely monitoring court decisions, Cooper Elliott partner Sean Alto is the Ohio co-chair for the American Association for Justice COVID-19 Business Interruption Litigation Task Force, which is a nationwide group of attorneys collaborating on business interruption lawsuits. If your business would like our help in determining the best course of action to recover damages suffered because of the COVID-19 pandemic, give us a call. We are here to help.