The president of the American Tort Reform Association (ATRA) Sherman "Tiger" Joyce recently published an op-ed outlining a dangerous ruling in a Missouri court regarding business interruption (BI) COVID-19 claims. The outlier decision in favor of policyholders fails to take into account that BI policies are generally triggered by physical property damage, which COVID-19 has been shown not to cause directly.
As the last few months have made clear, global pandemics are uninsurable. Rulings like the one in Missouri, as well as trial lawyers' bad faith litigation against insurers, are a distraction from what is really needed during this crisis: a federal solution to help struggling businesses as they look to survive and eventually recover from this pandemic.
Key highlights from the piece include:
- Business interruption insurance is designed to cover losses caused by physical damage to property, not a reduction in services or viral contamination. In fact, "Judge Bough's decision is an outlier, completely out of step with the essential function of business interruption insurance and outside the scope of policy coverage."
- In his ruling, the judge cited a previous decision that he himself had written as justification for the later ruling. "This is judicial activism at its worst. And given Bough's status as a federal judge, his interpretation of Missouri law and insurance agreements can serve as a precedent for other Missouri judges to follow."
- More importantly, the ruling played right into trial lawyers' hands. "Not only did the court reinterpret an insurance policy to fit its own narrative, but it also created an opportunity for unscrupulous trial attorneys to flood the state's civil court system with countless meritless lawsuits."
For more information, visit fairinsure.org.