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Florida sports bar sues Lloyd’s for coronavirus coverage


A Tampa, Florida, sports bar Thursday sued its insurers at Lloyd’s of London for business interruption coverage related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Coverage is triggered under Prime Time Sports Grill Inc.’s policy because the bar suffered a “direct physical loss” as a result of its government-mandated shutdown, said Michael V. Laurato, a partner at Austin & Laurato PA in Tampa, who represents Prime Time.

The suit is the latest in a string of suits filed by restaurants and other businesses in the hospitality sector seeking business interruption coverage for losses incurred since the onset of the pandemic in the United States. Insurance groups have asserted that most commercial policies exclude losses from communicable diseases such as COVID-19. 

In the suit, Prime Time Sports Grill Inc. v Certain Underwriters at Lloyd’s London, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Tampa, the sports bar said Florida’s March 17 order closing bars and restaurants in the state has had “a devastating effect” on its business. Prime Time has monthly revenue of over $150,000 and operating expenses of $120,000; the policy has a $200,000 limit for business interruption losses, the suit says.

The sports bar notified its insurers of its business interruption loss on March 17 and received a denial letter on March 23, court papers say.

Prime Time is seeking a declaratory judgment “that the policy issued by Underwriter to Prime Time provides coverage for the losses stemming from the COVID-19 governmental suspension of business operations for business income, extra expense, and all other coverage extensions up to the limits of the policy,” the suit says.

Mr. Laurato said that courts have previously interpreted the direct physical loss trigger to mean “any fortuitous event that is unintended from the perspective of the insured,” which would include a government-ordered closure.

Lloyd’s did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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