April 28, 2020

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A D.C. grilled cheese restaurant has filed a class-action lawsuit against its insurance provider saying the insurer refused to pay out claims for business interruption losses as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

GCDC Grilled Cheese Bar filed the suit Monday in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against The Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. (NYSE: HIG), a Connecticut-based insurance firm. Geoffrey Graber of Cohen Milstein Sellers and Toll PLLC, who is representing the business, said the firm is in discussions with about a dozen other restaurants that may join the suit, some of which receive insurance through other providers.

The lawsuit alleges Hartford and its subsidiary, Sentinel, denied valid, comprehensive insurance claims made by restaurants without investigating them. The suit also says GCDC's policy provides for 30 days of business income that is lost when access to the premises is prohibited by order of a civil authority, and coverage for 12 months of business income that is lost due to suspension of operations caused by the physical loss of property.

GCDC filed a report March 23 seeking coverage for lost business income, but Hartford denied the claim two days later, citing that GCDC did not identify any physical loss of property, according to the suit. The insurer also said the "civil authority" clause was related to a civil order resulting from a "covered cause of loss" and that the restaurant did not provide information to indicate such an order had been issued, the suit states.

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Gibbs Law Group, which represents small business, consumers, whistleblowers and employees, is also representing GCDC in the suit alongside Cohen Milstein.

The complete article can be viewed here.