Courts continue grappling with the application of California insurance law to COVID-19 business interruption claims. After three years of insurance claims and litigation, the California Supreme Court has agreed to provide guidance as to whether the actual or potential presence of SARS-CoV-2 on insured property can qualify as physical loss of or damage to property in Another Planet Entertainment, LLC v. Vigilant Insurance Company.
District court proceedings
Another Planet operates and promotes concerts, events, and festivals in California and Nevada. After its insurer denied coverage for business income losses incurred, Another Planet filed suit in California federal court seeking coverage under its “all-risk” property insurance policy.
In its amended complaint, Another Planet alleged that the virus was present or would have been present had it not closed its venues in compliance with government orders. The insured further alleged that droplets of the COVID-19 virus physically altered the air and property surfaces, constituting physical loss or damage and rendering the property unusable for its intended purpose and function. The pleading further asserted that minimizing the spread of COVID-19 requires physical alterations, including physical distancing, regular disinfection, air filtration, and installation of physical barriers.
Vigilant Insurance moved to dismiss on the basis that Another Planet had not sufficiently alleged direct physical loss or damage to property. On June 21, 2021, the District Court granted the insurer’s motion and dismissed the case with prejudice. Continue Reading California Supreme Court to offer guidance for COVID-19 coverage cases