Lieff Cabraser Civil Justice Blog
Justice for Restaurants

Lieff Cabraser & Alexandra Foote File Federal Breach of Contract Class Action Against Oregon Mutual for Business Interruption Insurance Denials

Filed on behalf of Michelin-starred chef and restaurateur Pim Techamuanvivit, this is the first nationwide class action against Oregon Mutual

May 5, 2020, San Francisco–(BUSINESSWIRE)– Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP and the Law Office of Alexandra Foote announce the filing of a nationwide federal class action breach of contract lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California against Oregon Mutual Insurance Company. This action is on behalf of famed restaurateur Pim Techamuanvivit and her San Francisco restaurants Kin Khao and Nari, as well as all other U.S. restaurants with business interruption insurance policies from Oregon Mutual. The complaint alleges that after Techamuanvivit’s restaurants suffered catastrophic financial losses in the wake of government-mandated COVID-19 business shutdowns, her restaurants’ business interruption policy claims were wrongly denied coverage by Oregon Mutual.

“Pim Techamuanvivit is stepping up to serve as a class representative on behalf of all other restaurateurs in her shoes who were wrongly denied coverage. We look forward to helping her as well as all others,” said Lieff Cabraser partner Robert Nelson, who represents the plaintiff restaurants in the case. “This action follows the California complaint we filed last week on behalf of two-starred Michelin chef Daniel Patterson, and we anticipate filing further actions against additional insurance companies in the very near future.”

Techamuanvivit’s restaurants, Kin Khao and Nari, are celebrated in San Francisco for blending traditional Thai recipes with modern California techniques and ingredients. Techamuanvivit started her first restaurant, Kin Khao, in San Francisco in 2014, and was subsequently awarded a Michelin star in 2015 after only one year of operation. Nari opened in 2019, has been described by the San Francisco Chronicle as “San Francisco’s most exciting new restaurant,” and was among Esquire Magazine’s “Best New Restaurants in America.” Techamuanvivit is currently nominated for the prestigious James Beard Award for Best Chef in California and was nominated for James Beard Best Chef: West in 2019.

The class in the lawsuit is defined as “all persons or entities in the United States who own an interest in a business that served food on the premises and was insured by Oregon Mutual in March 2020; made (or attempted to make) a claim with Oregon Mutual arising from lost business income (or other losses related to business interruption) at that business related to COVID-19; and did not receive coverage for that claim.”

“Nari and Kin Khao are symbolic of the rich and diverse culture of our restaurant industry, but help is not coming,” notes attorney Alexandra Foote, who also represents the plaintiffs, and has represented prominent restaurants in a boutique practice for over a decade. “The insurance industry could have stepped in on day one and avoided a crisis. They didn’t. They are saying they won’t. Not now, not ever. A milestone in the great history of culinary achievements, a woman of color nominated for a James Beard Award, has been met with deafening silence.”

Plaintiffs’ complaint alleges that this wholesale denial of valid and justified claims constitutes a breach of contract and breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, in addition to unfair business practices with respect to a California subclass. The complaint seeks declaratory relief as well as money damages.

Source/Contact

Robert J. Nelson
Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP
415 956-1000
rnelson@lchb.com