South Florida businesses are starting to sue insurers for denying business interruption claims
Another South Florida business has sued an insurer for rejecting its coronavirus business interruption claim.
Atma Beauty at 1874 West Avenue in Miami Beach filed a lawsuit against HDI Global Specialty SE, Axis Specialty Europe SE and Underwriters at Lloyd’s of London. The suit seeks class action status.
The complaint alleges Lloyd’s of London promised to cover losses and expenses incurred as a result of the salon suspending its operations, but failed to do so, breaching its contract. The salon paid a higher premium to be covered by an all-risk policy, and a pandemic was not excluded from the coverage, according to the suit.
Attorney Steven Marks at Podhurst Orseck represents Atma Beauty in the lawsuit, which was filed in the Miami federal court earlier this week.
The salon, owned by Ana Lessa, operates in a two-story building that totals 26,336 square feet, records show. The property is owned by Midland Trading Company, led by Zalman Fellig of Miami Beach.
“It has a high-end clientele. Their business is shut down 100 percent,” Marks said. “Restaurants tried to survive with take-out, or they are operating at 20 or 30 percent, but Atma can’t have a customer that comes in.”
South Florida salons are deemed non-essential. In early April, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order requiring people to stay at home, except for essential businesses. That order has since been modified for most of Florida, starting on Monday, but not for Miami-Dade, Broward or Palm Beach counties.
Experts say more lawsuits against insurers are expected, as businesses, especially those in the restaurant and hospitality industries, are still reeling from the financial impacts of coronavirus.
Last week, IT! Italy Ristorante Café & Bar in downtown Fort Lauderdale filed a lawsuit alleging Chubb Limited, the largest commercial property insurer in the country, failed to honor its agreement to pay its business insurance claim tied to losses stemming from the pandemic. Marks is also representing the plaintiff in that suit, along with Steve Zack of Boies Schiller.