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More Lawsuits Filed to Recover Insurance Money for Restaurants’ COVID-19 Business Losses

May 4, 2020

Nationally respected personal injury law firm Romanucci & Blandin, LLC, along with insurance policyholder’s law firms Rutter & Russin, LLC and Spangenberg, Shibley & Liber, LLP, together announce the filing of more lawsuits on behalf of several Chicago restaurants that are suffering devastating financial losses in the COVID-19 crisis. These restaurants have had their insurance companies deny claims for business interruption losses which, the lawsuits detail, should be covered and paid under the insurance contracts. Resolution of these claims is essential to the economic survival of these businesses and their entire supply chain.

A suit was filed May 4, 2020 in the Chancery Division of Cook County State Court in Cook County, Illinois. The plaintiff is the owner of Wood restaurant in Chicago and the defendant is Society Insurance, to which the restaurant owner made contractual premium payments, expecting compensation during their time of need according to the policy written by Society Insurance. Like an earlier complaint filed in April for Maillard Tavern, this lawsuit is seeking a declaratory judgement from the court, meaning a decision that finds the insurance company owes the restaurant owners coverage and improperly issued a denial. The lawsuit is not seeking additional damages.

Additionally, a class action suit was filed was filed May 4, 2020 in United States District Court in the Northern District of Illinois. The plaintiff is the owner of 3 Squares Diner and Jam restaurant in Chicago and the defendant is Cincinnati Insurance. This lawsuit is also seeking a declaratory judgement from the court for COVID-19 business interruption losses and is not seeking additional damages.

These and other restaurants have suffered an overwhelming financial impact that threatens their survival following the State of Illinois shut down of restaurants, bars and movie theaters announced on March 15, 2020, as an emergency measure to stop the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. A few days later, on March 20, 2020, the Governor of Illinois expanded the order and closed all “non-essential businesses.”  These lawsuits do not question the necessity of the business closures nor criticize the Governor of Illinois for doing so, but rather demand the insurance companies meet their contractual obligation for which they have been paid by these responsible business owners. 

“The magnitude of this problem is staggering, with the survival of an entire supply chain dependent on the restaurant industry. Food and beverage vendors, truckers, farmers, as well as restaurant employees and the real estate on which the restaurants sit are all being impacted by this crisis. The insurance companies need to meet their contractual obligations to restaurants so that this critical and very large segment of the economy can survive,” said Antonio Romanucci, Founding Partner of Romanucci & Blandin, LLC. “On a related note, we encourage efforts to create a federal program to provide meaningful financial and legislative support to the insurance industry so it, too, can endure this crisis.” 

“Our restaurant and others have done what is asked of us in this time of need and closed or severely reduced our operations. We are asking only to survive the crisis so we can resume the work we love and our role in the community. Our insurance claims are necessary to see us through this crisis,” said Franco Gianni, owner of Wood restaurant. 

“As responsible business owners, we paid our premiums in full and on time, with the expectation that our insurance company would honor the terms of our contract if we ever needed it. We need it now, and are holding them accountable for the policies they have written and sold to us for this exact purpose,” said Anthony Fiore, owner of 3 Squares Diner and Jam restaurant.

In order to protect the rights of restaurants, retail businesses and other organizations impacted by the pandemic business shutdown order, Romanucci & Blandin has strategically assembled a legal team of highly regarded experts to handle business interruption insurance claims. In addition to the nationally respected mass tort experts at Romanucci & Blandin, the team includes: Rutter & Russin, LLC, and Partner Bobby Rutter, one of the country's top insurance policyholder's rights attorneys; along with Spangenberg, Shibley & Liber, LLP and Partner Nick DiCello, a business and insurance litigation expert.

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