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Judge rules for Zurich in COVID-19 case

Business interruption

Updated to include information on a prior ruling. 

A Missouri judge on Tuesday ruled that a Zurich Insurance Group policy does not cover COVID-19-related business interruption losses.

The ruling comes seven months after an earlier ruling in the case, which favored the policyholder, was withdrawn.

In a short summary judgment ruling on Sept. 14, Kansas City-based circuit judge John M. Torrence ruled in Ja-Del Inc. v. Zurich American Insurance Co. et al that the Zurich policy excluded pandemic-related losses.

“After a review of the relevant points and authorities, the Court finds and concludes that the plain and unambiguous language of the policy at issue excludes damages caused by microorganisms such as the COVID-19 virus,” the ruling stated.

In February, the judge ruled that Ja-Del, which operates the Jack Stack Barbecue Restaurants, was owed coverage because the policy language was ambiguous. According to court documents, the earlier ruling was withdrawn because it "was issued in error." 

David Mayer, managing partner at Monsees & Mayer P.C. in Kansas City, who represents Ja-Del, said he was seeking a conference with the judge to get more information on the latest ruling.

Zurich did not respond to a request for comment.

More insurance and risk management news on the coronavirus crisis here.