Heavyweight of insurance cos victory continues for COVID shutdown cases

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  • 7th Midwest Tour Says Co Insurance Wins In Six Different Cases
  • But could reduce plaintiffs’ earnings in Society Insurance MDL

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(Reuters) – The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has issued its first rulings on business income loss insurance coverage for Covid-19-related losses, upholding the rulings of Aspen Specialty, Cincinnati Insurance, West Bend Mutual and Zurich AmericanInsurance in six different cases.

The three-judge panel joined the 6th, 8th, 9th and 11th circuits in ruling that restrictions on the use of the property, “not accompanied by any physical alteration,” do not trigger coverage under the defendants’ policies.

The Ohio and California state courts of appeals came to the same conclusion, said Claire Howard, senior vice president and general counsel of the American Property Casualty Insurance Association, in an emailed statement. Friday.

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The six decisions upheld by the 7th Circuit were handed down by federal judges in Illinois. Separately, however, U.S. District Judge Edmond Chang in Chicago came to the opposite conclusion in February in the multidistrict litigation he oversees against Society Insurance. Forty of the 53 MDL cases have been filed in federal court in Illinois, according to court records. Chang cleared the lawsuit, saying “a reasonable jury” could find the loss of use was covered.

Lawyers for the company did not respond to requests for comment on Friday about the effect of 7th Circuit court rulings on MDL, which is now in the pre-trial discovery phase.

In the cases decided by the 7th Circuit, companies have all had to close or significantly reduce their operations following decrees in March 2020 in an attempt to curb the spread of the virus.

The companies sued their insurers for denial of coverage, but federal judges in the districts of northern, central and southern Illinois have all ruled for the insurers. Circuit judges Daniel Manion, Diane Wood and David Hamilton agreed in four case law opinions released on Thursday.

Lawyers for the insurers and most of the appellants did not receive an immediate response on Friday. However, William Meyer Jr of Fuksa Khorshid, who represents Mashallah jewelry store and Holt restaurant / bar, said he is consulting his customers on their next steps.

“While we disagree with this, we appreciate and respect the 7th Circuit ruling, as well as the hard work of the Court and all lawyers to address these important issues,” Meyer wrote in an e- mail Friday.

The business is Bradley Hotel dba Quality Inn & Suites Bradley v. Aspen Specialty Insurance (21-1173); Crescent Plaza Hotel Owner c. Zurich American Insurance (No. 21-1316); Mashallah et al. v. West Bend Mutual Insurance (21-1507); and three cases against Cincinnati Insurance which were consolidated for appeal, filed by Sandy Point Dental (21-1186), TJBC Inc. (21-1203) and Bend Hotel Development (No. 21-1559)

For the Bradley Hotel: Steven Mikuzis of Mag Mile Law

For the Aspen specialty: Yvette Ostolaza and Virginia Seitz from Sidley Austin

For the Crescent Plaza Hotel: Timothy Burns of Burns Bowen Bair and W. Mark Lanier of Lanier Law Firm

For Zurich American: Jeffrey Babbin of Wiggin & Dana

For Mashallah: William Meyer Jr. and Vince Formica by Fuksa Khorshid

For West Bend: Jason Fathallah of Husch Blackwell

For Sandy Point, TJBC and Bend Hotel Development: Jonathan Lubin Law Office

For Cincinnati Insurance: Daniel Litchfield of Litchfield Cavo

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