A D.C. Superior Court rejected a business interruption claim due to closures related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Rose's 1, LLC v. Erie Ins. Exchange, Civil Case No 2020 CA 002424 B (Order dated Aug. 8, 2020). The decision is here.
Plaintiffs owned a number of restaurants in the District of Coiumbia. Plaintiffs had commercial property coverage in a policy issued by Erie. The policy provided coverage for loss of income sustained due to interruption of business resulting directly from "loss or damage" to the insured property.
DC Mayor Bowser issued a series of orders in March 2020 which closed all non-essential businesses, including plaintiffs' restaurants. Plaintiffs filed claims with Erie. When coverage was denied, plaintiffs filed suit. Both sides moved for summary judgment.
The dispute centered on whether the closure of the restaurants due to the mayor's orders constituted a "direct physical loss" under the policy. Plaintiffs argued that the loss of use of the restaurants was "direct" because the closures were the direct result of the mayor's orders without intervening action. The court reasoned, however, that the orders were governmental edicts that commanded individuals and businesses to take certain actions. Standing alone and absent intervening actions by individuals and businesses, the orders did not effect any direct changes to the properties.