Law360 (October 6, 2020, 2:47 PM EDT) -- The operators of the Last Hotel in St. Louis, Missouri, are suing The Cincinnati Insurance Co. and one of its agents, saying the company hasn't covered its losses stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic despite "crisis events" such as communicable diseases being included in the policy.
In a suit removed to Illinois federal court Monday, 1501 Washington St. Louis LLC and Last Hotel Master Tenant LLC told the court they had to shut down operations by as much as 60% in response to government orders intended to stem the spread of the disease, but were refused when they put in a claim with Cincinnati Insurance.
Like hundreds of businesses across the country, the hoteliers said they were severely impacted by the shutdown orders given by the mayor of St. Louis and the state governor, with the in-hotel restaurants, bars and gym completely closed to customers, and a downturn in guests staying at the site.
The hoteliers alleged that not only was the virus likely present at the hotel, making the facilities unsafe and unusable for their normal functions, but the policy also includes a crisis event coverage endorsement that the pandemic triggers.
That endorsement provides coverage for crises including contamination of the premises, which in turn includes communicable diseases, according to the complaint. While there is an exclusion for certain illnesses, COVID-19 is not among them, and it is not a "virulent human influenza" mentioned in the exclusion, the hoteliers told the court.
"In this particular case, unlike the many other cases filed for losses suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic, the insurance policy at issue here included business interruption coverage, and additional crisis event coverage, expressly providing coverage for losses caused by just this sort of contamination, communicable disease and/or virus," Michael Pomerantz of Brown Udell Pomerantz & Delrahim Ltd., representing the hotel, told Law360 on Tuesday.
The suit has two counts against Cincinnati Insurance, for a declaratory judgment that the insurer owes coverage for the losses under the pandemic and for bad faith denial of coverage.
The suit also targets insurance agent Robertson Ryan and Associates Inc. with a claim for negligent procurement of insurance, alleging that Robertson had promised to get the hotel an insurance policy that provided the coverage it needs, but got the business a policy that Cincinnati Insurance now claims does not cover the pandemic.
Representatives for Cincinnati Insurance and Robertson could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday.
The hotel is represented by Michael S. Pomerantz, Bryan D. King and Glenn M. Kanter of Brown Udell Pomerantz & Delrahim Ltd.
Cincinnati Insurance is represented by Brian M. Reid of Litchfield Cavo LLP.
Counsel information for Robertson was not immediately available Tuesday.
The case is 1501 Washington St. Louis LLC et al. v. The Cincinnati Insurance Co. et al., case number 1:20-cv-05922, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.
--Editing by Stephen Berg.
For a reprint of this article, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.