Law360 (July 20, 2020, 11:58 PM EDT) -- A landmark Miami-area theater filed a proposed class suit against SCOR SE on Monday claiming the global reinsurance company failed to cover losses and expenses incurred after it was forced to shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Actors Playhouse Productions Inc., which operates the Miracle Theatre in Coral Gables, Florida, said SCOR and its subsidiary General Security Indemnity Co. of Arizona have failed to hold up their end of the bargain under a property insurance policy that includes coverage for business interruption.
The policy also includes coverage for extra expenses incurred to minimize the suspension of business and civil authority coverage meant to pay for loss of business income caused by actions of civil authorities prohibiting access to the theater, which has been closed since March.
"Plaintiff's policy does not contain any exclusion which would apply to allow defendants to completely deny coverage for losses caused by COVID-19 and related actions of civil authorities taken in response to COVID-19," the theater said in the suit. "Accordingly, because the policy is an all-risk policy and does not specifically exclude the losses that plaintiff has suffered, those losses are covered."
Actors Playhouse added that although the Insurance Services Office, a company that drafts standard policy language for use in insurance contracts, drafted a virus exclusion for the industry in 2006 after the SARS epidemic, SCOR chose not to include this language in the theater's policy, which contains some standardized forms drafted by the ISO. Other insurers have chosen to incorporate the virus exclusion since the 2006 statement, but SCOR has not, according to the suit.
The playhouse wants to represent a nationwide class of businesses with similar policies who have also been denied business interruption coverage by SCOR.
"The uncertainty and impacts of COVID-19 continue to wreak havoc on the economy. Each day, more businesses and nonprofits are unable to maintain operations and meet their financial obligations, which is precisely why they carry business interruption insurance," said Steve Marks, managing partner at Podhurst Orseck, who is representing the playhouse. "The global pandemic is destroying businesses, and the economy will not be able to recover unless insurers take responsibility for their contractual obligations and provide the coverages that businesses have been paying a premium for."
The team representing the playhouse has also filed two similar putative class suits, one by a South Florida restaurant against insurance giant Chubb International and another by a Miami Beach beauty salon against HDI Global Specialty SE, Axis Specialty Europe SE and underwriters at Lloyd's of London. Last week, they filed two more suits on behalf of a Palm Beach restaurant and a children's retailer against Lloyd's of London and International Catastrophe Insurance Managers LLC, respectively.
In each case, the businesses say their policies contain no applicable exclusions that would allow denial of their claims due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Representatives for the defendants did not respond to requests for comment late Monday night.
Actors Playhouse is represented by Steven C. Marks, Aaron S. Podhurst, Lea P. Bucciero, Matthew P. Weinshall, Kristina M. Infante and Pablo Rojas of Podhurst Orseck PA and Stephen N. Zack, Bruce Weil, James Lee, Marshall Dore Louis, David Boies, Nick Gravante and Alex Boies of Boies Schiller Flexner LLP.
Counsel information for SCOR was unavailable.
The case is Actors Playhouse Productions Inc. et al. v. SCOR SE et al., case number 1:20-cv-22981, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.
--Additional reporting by Nathan Hale. Editing by Jay Jackson Jr.
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