Our policyholder-side Insurance Recovery Practice Team is proud to represent United Policyholders, Washington Hospitality Association, and National Independent Venue Association in submitting an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief in opposition to a motion to dismiss filed by the insurer in Vita Coffee v. Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company, pending in the Western District of Washington. A copy of the brief is here. Our brief advocates for the faithful application of Washington law, under which insurance policies that contain vague or unclear language are interpreted broadly in favor of the insured, to one of the key issues in many pending business interruption cases: whether the current pandemic can constitute “direct physical loss of or damage to” insured property. This is the second amicus brief Miller Nash has filed in support of a policyholder facing a motion to dismiss from its business income loss insurer.
Vita Coffee operates coffee shops Washington State (and elsewhere) and was insured under a policy issued by Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company, a subsidiary of Allianz. Vita Coffee, like many restaurants, closed down in March 2020 due to the pandemic, but was denied coverage for its business income loss.
At this point, it is unknown when the court will rule on the motion to dismiss.
Miller Nash has also filed two lawsuits over business interruption losses on behalf of firm clients; both cases are pending in the Western District of Washington.