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Appellate court upholds COVID ruling against synagogue

COVID litigation

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis on Monday affirmed a lower court’s dismissal of a COVID-19-related business interruption lawsuit filed by a St. Louis synagogue.

The appeals court’s two-page ruling in United Hebrew Congregation of St. Louis v. Selective Insurance Co. of America, a New Jersey Corp., cited its decision in Oral Surgeons, PC v. Cincinnati Insurance Co. in affirming the dismissal of the litigation filed by the synagogue.

The appeals court held in its July ruling in Oral Surgeons that the practice’s policy required “physical loss” or “physical damage” to trigger business interruption and extra expense coverage.

In its complaint, the synagogue had cited the loss of “revenue gaining activities”  during the duration of the stay-at-home orders issued by the St. Louis County Director of Public Health. These activities, which were not considered “essential,”  included pre-school, summer day camp, gift shop, commemorative banquets, senior services and events for which the synagogue rented its building.

Attorneys in the case did not respond to requests for comment.