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The Connecticut Supreme Court on Friday joined other state supreme courts when it unanimously affirmed lower court rulings against policyholders in two COVID-19-related business interruption cases
The court ruled in cases filed against Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. units that plaintiffs did not establish they had suffered direct physical loss or damage as required by their coverage.
The longer of the two rulings was in Connecticut Dermatology Group PC et al., v. Twin City Fire Insurance Co. et al., a case filed by the owners and operators of health care facilities in Connecticut.
The ruling concluded that “the plain meaning of the term ‘direct physical loss’” of property in its commercial insurance coverage “does not include the suspension of business operations on a physically unaltered property in order to prevent the transmission of the coronavirus.”
The second case, Hartford Fire Insurance Co. v. Moda LLC et al., was filed by a Greenwich, Connecticut-based company that sells shoes to department stores and other retailers across the country. It sought coverage under its package and ocean marine policies.
Neither coverage applied, the court ruled, noting the package policy included a virus exclusion, while the marine policy provided coverage only for direct physical loss or damage.
Attorneys in the cases did not respond to requests for comment.
The Connecticut high court joins state supreme courts in Delaware, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Washington and Wisconsin that have ruled in insurers’ favor in comparable cases, with only Vermont’s high court ruling in policyholder’s favor to date.