June 11, 2020

After suffering severe financial losses because of COVID-19 shutdowns, The Gardener filed a claim for business interruption insurance. It was denied. Now the company is suing.

The Gardener, the garden and home store that has anchored the Fourth Street shopping district for 36 years, has filed a lawsuit against its insurance company for not honoring its business interruption coverage.

Alta Tingle, who founded and owns The Gardener, filed the claim against the Ohio Security Insurance Company after “facing serious financial harm” because of the closure of her stores in Berkeley, San Francisco and Healdsburg. Tingle, like almost every other retailer, was forced to close her stores after local cities and Gov. Gavin Newsom issued shelter-in-place orders to stop the spread of COVID-19.

The insurance company, which is affiliated with Liberty Mutual Insurance Company, denied The Gardener’s business interruption claim, according to the lawsuit filed Tuesday in federal court.

“That leaves The Gardener in financial straits — precisely the situation it sought to avoid when it obtained coverage for business interruptions,” according to the lawsuit. Tingle said she thought business interruption insurance would cover a business downturn due to conditions out of her control.

“East Bay residents, local artisans, and our employees have relied on The Gardener being a key part of Fourth Street and the greater Berkeley economy since we first opened in 1984,” Tingle said in a statement. “We thought that by purchasing business interruption insurance from Ohio Security Insurance Company that they would help us navigate difficult situations like the current crisis. Now we expect Ohio Security Insurance Company to hold up their end of the bargain and ensure that The Gardener can continue to be a vital part of our community.”

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Gibbs Law Group and the Washington, D.C.-based Cohen Milstein Sellers and Toll PLLC are representing a handful of other businesses, both retail stores and restaurants, in California that have filed suits against various insurance companies that have denied them business interruption insurance, said Zeman. Many are filed as class-action lawsuits.

The complete article can be accessed here.