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Uphill Battle Awaits COVID-19 Business Insurance Claimants as the Debate Moves up to Appellate Courts | Burr & Forman



A majority of the legal proceedings that have resolved property insurance claims related to COVID have found that coverage will not be triggered without direct physical loss or property damage. The insurance industry is now waiting to see whether this also applies at the appointment level.

As the pandemic subsides, the number of COVID-related insurance claims in American courts is also decreasing. A fair number was initially filed by business owners seeking income replacement during the temporary government-ordered shutdowns, which peaked in mid-2020. However, the predicted tide of such cases has slowed to a trickle for practical and legal reasons. Many business owners have had healthy incentive payments to replace their lost income and cover their overheads, such as the Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”). Perhaps more importantly, US courts in most jurisdictions have now considered whether such state-ordered closings and the resulting economic losses are covered by a standard property insurance policy in the absence of actual property damage. The key message in such policies is “direct physical loss or damage to property”. An overwhelming majority of the courts have stated that this requires specific physical harm; a mere temporary closure of shoppers or restaurants is not enough, even if ordered by the government for reasons of public safety.

According to the Covid Coverage Litigation Tracker, the win rate for insurers in this area is high.[1] a website published by the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School. The website reports that around 80-90 percent of all Covid-19 property insurance cases have resulted in termination.[2]

The overwhelming majority of the courts have ruled that such cases should be dismissed in the absence of actual property damage. These include “business income,” one of the partial covers offered under property insurance, when the business needs to be closed to “repair” or “restore” its physically damaged property. It still requires “direct physical loss or damage to insured property” (or similar language) for any coverage. An example is a tornado damage to a retail store; the policy would cover repairs to the store plus loss of income while it was being closed for repairs. Thus, such “business income” coverage differs from “business interruption” insurance, although it is often mistakenly confused. The “business income” cover is only one component of a classic property insurance claim, which includes real property damage.

Court after court has ruled that property insurance only covers “income” during a period of “restoration,” “repair” or “replacement” of physically damaged property – another indication that the policy is actual loss of or damage to property of the insured, not just financial loss. In deciding this question, many courts have relied on the Merriam-Webster dictionary’s definitions of words such as “physical” (having material existence and, above all, perceptible by the senses and subject to the laws of nature); “Loss” (“Destruction or Ruin”); and “Damage” (“Loss or damage resulting from injury to persons, property or reputation”). An Alabama federal court found, “You cannot rip the adjective ‘physical’ out of the noun that modifies it ‘loss’.” A common understanding of the term would be “a material, perceptible destruction or ruin of property.”[3]

The few exceptions where a policyholder has enforced a dismissal motion mainly centered around whether a pandemic-triggered closure can be a literal “physical loss,” but most courts won’t buy it.[4] Some others have allowed a policyholder to file a Covid-19 lawsuit (with insurers’ dismissals overturned) that made an explicit factual allegation of COVID contamination and sick employees.[5] In none of these cases, however, has the question of whether the policy nevertheless excludes coverage, for example excluding coverage for “acts or decisions” by a government agency. The cases in which a court has ruled that economic loss (without accompanying physical damage) was sufficient have generally been rejected and not pursued by other courts.[6]

The existence of a virus exclusion, such as ISO form CP 01 40 07 06 “Exclusion in the event of loss through viruses or bacteria”, has offered courts an easy way out in the cases in which they exist. However, the opposite is not the case – that the absence of virus exclusion means the presence of coverage. Courts dealing with this issue continue to believe that the policy requires an initial case of actual property damage before the exclusions (including virus exclusions) even come into play.[7]

Perhaps this litigation will reach a turning point with more than 120 cases pending appeal in 25 states.[8] Every U.S. appeals court is now dealing with this issue, as are several state appeals courts, including Ohio and Oklahoma. Although the treaty interpretation rules of the individual states have nuances, their regulations have so far been surprisingly uniform. However, until the final decision on the appellate body has been made, the insurance industry will take the issue seriously, as there is a potential danger if the courts should decide that an official can essentially order insurance benefits with the stroke of a pen. Property insurance, it is said, is only intended for property damage.

Stay tuned for updates from the Burr team as these matters find their way through the appeal process.


[2] See Law360, Erin Badham and Keith Moskowitz, Outliers Offer False Hope For Virus Biz Interruption Claims, (April 14, 2021), available at: -for-virus-biz-interruption-claims (last visited on May 25, 2021). The COVID litigation tracker only considers cases that can be found publicly, with government legal documents being less readily available.

[3] Woolworth LLC v Cincinnati Ins. Co., No. 2: 20-CV-01084-CLM, 2021 WL 1424356, * 3-4 (ND Ala. April 15, 2021)

[4] See Café International Holding Company v. Westchester Surplus Lines Insurance Company, Case No. 20-21641, 2021 WL 1803805, * 1 (SD Fla. May 4, 2021) or in the community as a whole does not cause “direct physical loss or harm”.)

[5] See, e.g., Studio 417, Inc. v Cincinnati Insurance Company, No. 6: 20-cv-03127-SRB (WD Mon Aug 12, 2020); Serendipitous, LLC / Melt v. Cincinnati Ins. Co., No. 2: 20-CV-00873-MHH, 2021 WL 1816960, at * 1 (ND Ala. May 6, 2021)

[6] See Henderson Road. Rest. Sys., Inc. v Zurich Am. Ins. Co., No. 1: 20-CV-1239, 2021 WL 168422 (ND Ohio 2021); Podiatry Foot and Ankle Inst. PA versus Hartford Ins. Co. of Midwest, No. CV2020057KMESK, 2021 WL 1326975, at * 3, n.3 (DNJ April 9, 2021)

[7] Bel Air Auto Auction, Inc. v Great Northern Ins. Co., No. RDB-20-2892, 2021 WL 1400891 (D. Md. Apr. 14, 2021) (Bennett, J.) (Insurer’s motion for a decision on the pleadings in a COVID-19-related insurance claim and rejection of the plaintiff’s argument that the Absence of virus exclusion indicates coverage).

[8] See Bronstad, Amanda, Legal Fight Over COVID-19 Insurance Coverage Heads to Appella Courts, available at head-to-appellate-courts /? slreturn = 20210425130030 (last visited on May 25, 2021)

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Experts fear COVID-19 pandemic could cause human trafficking crisis



ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) – Human trafficking is the second fastest growing crime in the world after drug trafficking.

The statistics are terrifying. Most women are raped 6,000 times and each woman is worth $ 100,000 a year, making them very valuable and making their chances of escape almost impossible. It doesn’t just happen in big cities or poor neighborhoods, but in almost every community in our country and experts fear that COVID-19 will trigger a human trafficking crisis.

“I had a very difficult divorce from a very wealthy husband. He actually let me be trafficked so I wouldn’t get custody of my five children, ”trafficked survivor Kimberly Lansford told Ivanhoe.

Kimberly Lansford was 27 when traffickers drugged her and took her from Denver to Mexico City.

“You’re being broken into by terror, a lot of physical abuse, a lot of sexual abuse,” said Kimberly Lansford.


Kimberly’s nightmare lasted 19 years until …

“The Samaritan Village found me,” said Kimberly Lansford.

For more than a decade, Samaritan Village has been helping women rebuild their lives.

“Young women who feel ugly, unwanted and unseen can visit these traffickers and fill that void,” said Dionne Coleman, executive director of Samaritan Village.

Samaritan Village offers hope and provides housing free of charge for 18 months. Survivors receive mental, physical and dental care, access to professional training and, most importantly, support. Money from donors and from their thrift store is helping to cover the costs, but now organizations like these fear the consequences of the pandemic.

“We call it the calm before the storm, so to speak. I know there will be a lot of people who will need help when we all get back to normal, ”said Dionne Coleman.

Some women could not get any help during the lockdown.


“It doesn’t just happen to the underclass or to drug addicts, it’s not true. It happens to people like me every day, ”announced Kimberly Lansford.

“When you see something, copy someone who feels, or there’s a pairing of people who doesn’t feel right, call this human trafficking hotline,” said Dionne Coleman.

The biggest misconception about human trafficking is that the victims are runaways or addicts. Family Members Selling Family members, as in Kimberly’s case, is common.

Also, traffickers often target high school girls and threaten to ruin their reputations. Samaritan Village works with local colleges for scholarships. To learn more, visit



Contributors to this news report are: Marsha Lewis, producer; Matt Goldschmidt, videographer; Roque Correa, editor. To receive a free weekly email on Ivanhoe’s Smart Living, sign up at:

Copyright 2021 by KSAT – All rights reserved.

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Reuters, New York Times win Pulitzers for coverage of racial injustice, COVID-19



Reuters and the Minneapolis Star Tribune each won a Pulitzer Prize for Journalism on Racial Inequality in U.S. Police Work on Friday, while the New York Times and the Atlantic were honored for Chronicle of the COVID-19 Pandemic, the two topics that the Last year’s headlines dominated.

The Star Tribune won the 2021 Pulitzer Prize for breaking news coverage for its “urgent, authoritative and nuanced” coverage of the police murder of George Floyd last May, while Reuters and Atlantic shared the award in explanatory coverage.

The Pulitzer Prizes are the most prestigious awards in American journalism and have been presented since 1917, when newspaper publisher Joseph Pulitzer bequeathed them to Columbia University in New York.

In 2020, “the country’s news organizations are faced with the complexities of covering a global pandemic, a racial reckoning, and a bitterly competitive presidential election, one at a time,” said Mindy Marques, co-chair of the Pulitzer Board of Directors, at the announcement ceremony, which broadcast online has been .

The board cited Reuters reporters Andrew Chung, Lawrence Hurley, Andrea Januta, Jaimi Dowdell and Jackie Botts for the “groundbreaking data analysis” of their “Shielded” series, which showed how an obscure legal doctrine of “qualified immunity” shielded police officers make excessive use of the force of law enforcement.

Reuters editor-in-chief Alessandra Galloni said in a statement that the series shaped the debate over American police reform.

“In a year of stormy protests against the police killings of black Americans, ‘Shielded’ was a work of tremendous moral force on the persistent problem facing the world’s most powerful democracy, the legacy of racial injustice,” the statement said.

The Pulitzer Prize for Reuters, an entity of Thomson Reuters (TRI.TO), was the ninth since 2008 and the sixth in the past four years.

The Reuters team shared the explanatory coverage award with Ed Yong of The Atlantic, who was recognized by the board for “a series of clear, definitive contributions to the COVID-19 pandemic.”


Mary Stewart holds an obituary for her son Luke Stewart on November 12, 2020 in Cleveland, Ohio, United States. REUTERS / Megan Jelinger

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Reuters’ series of police stories were triggered by a single case – and required lengthy, complex data analysis.

In April 2017, the US Supreme Court declined to reopen an unarmed suspect alleging unconstitutional excessive violence against a Houston police officer for shooting him in the back. Reuters Supreme Court reporters Chung and Hurley have teamed up with data reporters Januta, Dowdell and Botts. They analyzed hundreds of cases and found that since 2005 the courts have shown an increasing tendency to grant immunity in cases of excessive violence. They then detailed the cases of a number of victims of police violence who were denied justice, even after courts found the officers were too violent.

The first Reuters story came out just weeks before the murder of Floyd, a 46-year-old black man who died in handcuffs when a white Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck. The coverage had a broad influence on the national discussion of US police problems.

“The data we produced was quoted in almost every major news organization immediately after the George Floyd murder,” Hurley said, adding that it was also quoted in court records and informally by judges.


Many of the 2021 Pulitzer Awards went to coverage of policing and the global protest movement that broke out after Floyd’s assassination: the Associated Press won the Breaking News Photography Award for pictures of the protests, while Robert Greene of the Los Angeles Times for editorial contributions won for his work on bail reform and prisons.

The board also said it gave Darnella Frazier, the teenage viewer who recorded a video of Floyd’s murder on her cell phone, a “special quote” highlighting “the vital role of citizens in helping journalists find truth and justice” .

The New York Times won the Public Service Journalism Award, often considered the most coveted of the 22 awards, for its “predictive and comprehensive coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.” The Boston Globe won for investigative coverage for exposing a systematic failure by state governments to share information about dangerous truck drivers that could have kept them off the road.

The announcement of the prices on Friday, each worth $ 15,000, had been postponed to April amid the pandemic. The awards dinner, which usually takes place shortly after at Columbia University, has been postponed until the fall.

The Pulitzer Board of Directors also recognizes achievements in seven categories in the arts and awarded Louise Erdrich its Fiction Prize for her novel “The Night Watchman” about attempting to evict Indian tribes in the 1950s.

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Oregon reports no new COVID-19 related deaths, 308 new cases; transmission rate falling



PORTLAND, Oregon (KTVZ) – Oregon has no new deaths related to COVID-19 and the state’s death toll remains at 2,726, the Oregon Health Department reported Friday.

OHA also reported 308 new confirmed and suspected cases of COVID-19 at 12:01 a.m. Friday, bringing the state’s total to 204,587.

Information from today’s media briefing

On Friday morning, Governor Kate Brown and Dr. Dean Sidelinger, State Health Commissioner and State Epidemiologist at OHA, provided an update on Oregon’s ongoing COVID-19 response. Governor Brown highlighted Oregon’s continued progress in meeting its goal of vaccinating at least 70% of all eligible Oregonians and filling the equity gap in vaccinating Oregon’s colored communities.

Dr. Sidelinger discussed the high protective effects of COVID-19 vaccines, noting that virtually every patient who now requires hospital treatment for COVID-19 is unvaccinated.

See more about it here and read the topics of the press conference here.

Update on CDC data tracker problems

OHA has relied on a daily data update from the U.S. Centers for Disease and Control Prevention (CDC) to report the number of people who will need COVID-19 vaccination to reach the Oregon goal, 70% of the time Vaccinate people over the age of 18.

Unfortunately, CDC has an issue with the data feed contributing to its COVID data tracker dashboard, which Oregon is using to track the state’s progress toward 70%.

CDC anticipates that approximately two days of data will not appear on the CDC COVID data tracker dashboard. CDC is working to resolve the issue and expects to have it resolved by June 15th. The COVID data tracker is the only place that reports doses from all sources that have been given to Oregonians, including doses given by federal agencies as well as doses given to living people in Oregon by vendors in other states.

The latest COVID-19 modeling report shows a decline in transmission

On Friday, OHA released its latest COVID-19 forecast, which showed lower transmission of the virus through the end of May and forecast fewer hospitalizations and daily cases through June 29.

According to the model, the effective reproduction rate – the expected number of secondary cases a single case will generate – was estimated to be 0.66 by May 26.

At the same transmission rate, daily cases would drop to 100 daily cases and new hospital admissions to five per day over the next three weeks.

If transmission increased by 20%, the number of new cases would gradually decrease to 135 new daily cases with seven new hospital admissions daily.

The modeling shows that estimated immunity from vaccination is present in four times more people than naturally acquired immunity. Natural immunity is immunity that stems from a previous infection.

A person who has had COVID-19 and has recovered may not have the same level of immunity as a person who has not been infected and has been fully vaccinated, and it is not known how long natural immunity will last.

People who have recovered from the disease will respond strongly to the vaccine. OHA recommends people get the vaccine to increase their protection against COVID-19.

More than 2.3 million Oregonians have received at least one dose of the safe and highly effective vaccine, and 2 million have completed a vaccine series, OHA said.

Vaccinations in Oregon

OHA reported Friday that 24,213 new doses of COVID-19 vaccinations have been added to the state vaccination registry. Of these, 15,926 doses were administered on Thursday and 8,987 on the previous days, but entered in the vaccine register on Thursday.

The running average over seven days is now 17,697 doses per day.

Oregon has now administered a total of 2,352,742 first and second doses of Pfizer, 1,662,657 first and second doses of Moderna, and 154,388 single doses of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines. As of Friday, 2,007,367 people have completed a COVID-19 vaccine series. There are 2,310,053 people who received at least one dose. The number of adult Oregonians who need vaccinations to reach the 70% threshold is 87,702.

It can take several days to complete the daily cumulative totals as providers have 72 hours to report the doses administered, and technical challenges have left many providers delayed in their reporting. OHA provides technical support to vaccination centers to improve the timeliness of their data entry into the state’s ALERT Vaccination Information System (IIS).

To date, 2,862,225 doses of Pfizer, 2,176,380 doses of Moderna and 299,000 doses of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines have been shipped to locations across Oregon.

These dates are preliminary and are subject to change.

The OHA dashboards provide regularly updated vaccination data, and the Oregon dashboard was updated on Friday.

COVID-19 hospital stays

The number of hospital patients with COVID-19 across Oregon is 169, down four from Thursday. There are 40 COVID-19 patients on the beds of the intensive care unit (ICU), one less than on Thursday.

The total number of COVID-19 positive patient bed days in the last seven days is 1,278, a decrease of 23.4% compared to the previous seven days. The peak daily number of beds occupied by COVID-19 positive patients in the past seven days is 206.

The total number of patients in hospital beds may vary between reporting times. The numbers do not reflect the number of admissions per day or the length of hospital stay. Personnel restrictions are not recorded in this data and can further limit the bed capacity.

More information on hospital capacity can be found here.

St. Charles Bend reported 25 COVID-19 patients, five of them in intensive care, all on ventilators at 4 a.m. on Friday.

Cases and deaths

The new confirmed and suspected COVID-19 cases reported on Friday are in the following counties: Benton (3), Clackamas (34), Clatsop (4), Columbia (6), Coos (1), Crook (8), Curry (2), Deschutes (14), Douglas (15), Grant (2), Hood River (2), Jackson (21), Jefferson (3), Josephine (3), Klamath (2), Lake (1) , Lane (12), Lincoln (1), Linn (12), Malheur (2), Marion (31), Multnomah (67), Polk (5), Umatilla (11), Union (1), Wasco (1) , Washington (37) and Yamhill (7).

Note: From April 30 through June 10, based on routine data quality reviews, the OHA identified 19,992 duplicate negative electronic laboratory reports (ELRs) relating to a single laboratory in Yamhill County. These double negative ELRs were removed from the system Thursday night. As a result, ELR numbers across the state and Yamhill County have declined, and percent positivity has increased for that period.

Learn more about COVID-19 vaccinations

To learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine situation in Oregon, visit the OHA website (English or Spanish) for a breakdown of distribution and other information.

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