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Chicago Restaurant Devastated by COVID-19 Shutdown Sues Insurance Company for Payment Covered by its Policy

Posted on: April 15th, 2020 by Romanucci & Blandin

Lawsuit Puts Insurance Industry on Notice for Business Interruption Claims

CHICAGO (April 15, 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 a lawsuit on behalf of a Chicago restaurant that has suffered devastating financial losses in the COVID-19 crisis, and is seeking payment rightfully due from its insurance company for business interruption losses. The suit was filed April 14, 2020 in Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois. The plaintiffs are the owners of Maillard Tavern 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. The 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.

The restaurant suffered an overwhelming financial impact that threatens its survival following the State of Illinois’ shut down of restaurants, bars and movie theaters 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.” 

The lawsuit does not question the necessity of the business closures nor criticize the Governor of Illinois for doing so, but rather demands the insurance company meet its contractual obligation for which it has been paid by this responsible business owner. 

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.

“Clearly, restaurant owners sustained deep and devastating financial losses through no fault of their own; rather, they are complying with the State of Illinois’ order to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus,” said Antonio Romanucci, Founding Partner of Romanucci & Blandin, LLC. “In an effort to protect their businesses, including their employees, from a situation like this, our plaintiff did the responsible thing in months and years gone by, and procured business interruption insurance that included a provision for losses incurred due to a ‘necessary suspension’ of their operations due to a government order.” 

“We are seeing many insurance companies deny these pandemic-related claims, which is not only disturbing but downright wrong. Almost all business insurance policies include business interruption coverage, providing compensation if your business is halted or significantly slowed by a covered act and sustains damages,” said Bobby Rutter, Partner with Rutter & Russin, LLC.  

“Insurance companies were more than willing to accept the premium payments when times were good. Now it is imperative that they meet their contractual obligation to help these businesses – and critical members of our community – survive when they need it most,” said Nick DiCello, Partner with Spangenberg, Shibley & Liber, LLP. 

Co-owners of Maillard Tavern, Tony Priolo and Ciro Longobardo said, “As our community battles the COVID-19 virus there are many difficult battles being fought in hospitals by people who are very sick, but the pandemic has also had a devastating impact on many of us who own and operated businesses that have been shut down. We have lost our livelihoods and our ability to pay our valued employees, our vendors and our rent. As responsible business owners, we paid our business insurance premiums but have been denied the benefits of that policy when we need it most. This problem is not just about our company, this is an industry-wide problem that could crush our economy and community if all of the restaurants, retailers and others businesses lose the safety net we depended on from insurance.”

The legal team is sharing its expertise on COVID-19 business interruption litigation at this critical time in a number of ways. Antonio Romanucci will be a featured panelist on the April 29 Crain’s Chicago Business Content Studio webinar addressing COVID-19 Business Relief, www.chicagobusiness.com; Bobby Rutter has been featured in the media for his expertise on COVID-19 business interruption, https://www.cleveland19.com/2020/04/13/hospitality-businesses-hoping-insurance-companies-will-pay-their-losses/; and Nick DiCello will be an expert speaker on the April 21 legal webinar on business interruption losses for COVID-19 by Mass Torts Made Perfect https://mtmp.com/connect/.

To learn more about Business Interruption Litigation visit https://rblaw.net/covid-19-business-interruption-litigation-bil/.

About Romanucci & Blandin, LLC

Romanucci & Blandin is a national trial practice committed to fighting for victims of negligence, abuse and wrongful death arising from police misconduct, corporate negligence, civil rights actions, medical malpractice, mass torts and class actions. The attorneys’ steadfast commitment to fighting for those seeking justice around the country has helped the firm obtain multiple verdicts and settlements in the millions of dollars. The Chicago-based personal injury lawyers are dedicated to providing victims who suffered injury as a result of another’s wrongdoing full and fair compensation in a diligent, professional, skilled and caring manner. The lawyers actively support their communities and provide advocacy at the national, state and local levels on issues that support the U.S. tort system. Founded in 1998, Romanucci & Blandin is widely recognized for representing plaintiffs in numerous practice areas including: personal injury, wrongful death, medical malpractice, workers’ compensation, pharmaceutical, mass torts, civil rights, police misconduct, excessive force, aviation, product liability and premises liability.  For more information about Romanucci & Blandin, please visit www.rblaw.net or call (312) 458-1000. 

About Rutter & Russin, LLC

Rutter & Russin, LLC is proud of its success representing policyholders across the country, in all types of insurance coverage disputes, including claims for loss or damage to property, business interruption loss, declaratory judgments, insurance bad faith, life insurance, disability insurance, and insurance agent negligence.  For more information about Rutter & Russin, please visit www.ohio-insurance-lawyer.com or call (216) 642-1425.

About Spangenberg, Shibley & Liber, LLP

Spangenberg Shibley & Liber, LLP was established in 1946 by Craig Spangenberg, an inductee into the Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame. For more than 70 years, the firm has been achieving premium results on behalf of its clients in and out of the courtroom.  Spangenberg’s areas of expertise include insurance coverage, medical malpractice, police brutality and civil rights, personal injury, business disputes, products liability, class actions, and mass torts. The firm regularly serves in leadership roles in large, complex cases, including financial and banking class actions and large-scale pharmaceutical litigation. Spangenberg’s Peter Weinberger currently serves as Co-Liaison Counsel in the National Prescription Opiate Multi-District Litigation (MDL), one of the largest and most complex pieces of litigation in American history.

Spangenberg is known for taking on complicated and complex cases against some of the largest industries in the country. Spangenberg lawyers routinely obtain multi-million-dollar verdicts at trial.  The last three verdicts obtained by the firm were for $28 million, $3.97 million and $70.5 million. Spangenberg’s Pete Weinberger was a member of the trial team in the first Opiate MDL bellwether case that settled before opening statements for $260 million late last year.

For more information about Spangenberg, Shibley & Liber please visit www.spanglaw.com or call (216) 600-0114.

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