Chez Panisse, the iconic Berkeley restaurant known for its French cuisine and popularizing the farm-to-table movement, is joining another movement — suing its insurer to seek coverage for Covid-19 damages after purchasing business interruption insurance.
The lawsuit filed in Northern District of California on Tuesday alleges that Chez Panisse's insurer, AMCO Insurance Company — a subsidiary of Nationwide — acted in bad faith for categorically denying the restaurant's business interruption insurance claim related to the pandemic after years of premiums on that kind of insurance. The restaurant is seeking a statement from AMCO that coverage is warranted for their claim, and an unspecified amount of damages and coverage of legal fees.
“The servers, cooks, farmers, ranchers and other hard-working people in the Chez Panisse family are seeing their livelihoods in jeopardy because AMCO has declined to live up to its responsibilities as our insurer,” said Alice Waters, food world celebrity and chef who founded Chez Panisse in 1971, in a press statement. “Chez Panisse spent years paying hefty premiums for business interruption insurance and AMCO has an obligation to help provide economic relief to my team and restore the wide-ranging supply chain of small farms and businesses that Chez Panisse relies on to provide fresh and local cuisine.”
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Chez Panisse is the latest business to take legal action on business interruption policies with representation from the "Covid-19 Business Interruption Insurance Coverage Task Force" of Gibbs Law Group and Washington D.C.-based Cohen Milstein Sellers and Toll PLLC, which has six similarly premised cases in California ongoing in state and federal court. Five of those businesses are in the Bay Area: Uncle Sharkii restaurant in Concord, retail stores The Gardener and Mudpie in Berkeley and San Francisco, respectively, and Albany music venue Ivy Room.
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