Mississippi casino sues insurer that won't pay COVID-19 loss

A Mississippi Gulf Coast casino has become one of many businesses nationwide to sue its insurer for refusing to cover business losses because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Posted: Nov 20, 2020 7:15 PM

GULFPORT, Miss. (AP) — A Mississippi Gulf Coast casino has become one of many businesses nationwide to sue its insurer for refusing to cover business losses because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Island View Casino Resort in Gulfport contends in the federal lawsuit that its insurer owes it $10 million for business losses caused by a 65-day COVID-19 shutdown in the spring.

Gulfside Casino Partnership, Island View’s owner, is also demanding $90 million in punitive damages, attorney’s fees and interest.

The Sun Herald reports Island View says it lost $46.2 million in revenue when it was closed from March 16 until May 21 under orders from the Mississippi Gaming Commission. However, its policy only covers up to $10 million.

The lawsuit alleges breach of contract and negligence against Georgia-based Westchester Surplus Lines Insurance Co., which parceled out shares of the risk to nine other insurers.

Gulfport attorney Joe Sam Owen, who represents the partnership, said legal disputes over COVID-19 insurance claims generally have boiled down to the definition of “physical damage.”

Insurance companies argue the property must suffer actual physical damage, as it would in a hurricane, to recover losses under their policies.

But the casino says its policy specifically covers losses caused by canceled bookings, or the inability to accept bookings, caused by "a contagious or infectious disease at an insured location, as determined by a public or civil authority," and that the loss is covered “whether or not physical damage occurs to the property.”

The cancellation coverage costs Island View an annual premium of $408,268.

An insurance adjusting firm assigned to the claim, Crawford Global Technical Services, wrote in a July letter to Island View: “As a general matter, the policies afford coverage only when there has been direct physical loss, damage or destruction. In the absence of such damage, there is not coverage.”

Pollutants and contaminants, including viruses, are listed in an underlying policy as being excluded from coverage, the letter said. It also said other policy language states that “communicable disease” is not covered.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 149940

Reported Deaths: 3779
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto10097104
Hinds9984199
Harrison7116110
Jackson6360119
Rankin5588103
Lee509195
Madison4799106
Forrest383186
Jones357688
Lauderdale3496147
Lafayette326051
Washington3179107
Lamar291550
Oktibbeha245462
Bolivar241384
Lowndes237364
Panola222350
Neshoba2206118
Marshall217250
Leflore205590
Pontotoc199928
Monroe198177
Sunflower191655
Lincoln190865
Warren176857
Tate169851
Union167325
Copiah164140
Pike162658
Yazoo156039
Scott154829
Itawamba152935
Pearl River152167
Alcorn151328
Coahoma150543
Simpson148353
Prentiss146230
Adams141950
Grenada140945
Leake134944
Holmes130861
George125524
Tippah125230
Covington123439
Winston122224
Hancock121139
Wayne117923
Marion116646
Attala113034
Tishomingo109442
Chickasaw107632
Newton105629
Tallahatchie97027
Clay91327
Clarke90553
Jasper82822
Stone77014
Walthall76928
Calhoun75513
Montgomery74525
Carroll72415
Lawrence71814
Smith71316
Yalobusha71327
Noxubee71017
Perry67026
Tunica61019
Greene60322
Claiborne58616
Jefferson Davis57017
Amite54014
Humphreys53619
Benton49318
Quitman4927
Webster44314
Kemper43618
Wilkinson39822
Jefferson35211
Franklin3395
Choctaw3357
Sharkey30917
Issaquena1164
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 244993

Reported Deaths: 3572
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson32314500
Mobile19859361
Madison13223148
Tuscaloosa13049154
Montgomery12342236
Shelby1031577
Baldwin873398
Lee775766
Morgan662650
Calhoun6301119
Etowah627666
Marshall627255
Houston525638
DeKalb485536
Cullman439442
Limestone425145
St. Clair419555
Lauderdale407854
Elmore406864
Walker3657111
Talladega351454
Jackson320423
Colbert311942
Blount292240
Autauga273542
Franklin252633
Coffee245415
Dale232654
Dallas226232
Chilton223438
Russell22193
Covington218934
Escambia198331
Chambers176850
Tallapoosa176391
Pike158614
Clarke158419
Marion140236
Winston133023
Lawrence127936
Pickens123518
Geneva12218
Marengo121524
Bibb117917
Barbour117310
Butler116541
Randolph102921
Cherokee102224
Hale97031
Clay91924
Fayette91616
Washington91219
Henry8546
Lowndes79929
Monroe78911
Cleburne77214
Macon73722
Crenshaw71130
Bullock69619
Perry6886
Conecuh68414
Lamar6798
Wilcox63518
Sumter58122
Greene42618
Choctaw42213
Coosa3444
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