As part of their continuing series of conversations on the impact of the Coronavirus on the restaurant industry, OpenTable’s bi-monthly food news webinar series “In it Together” spoke with award-winning chef/owner of Portland’s Beast and Expatriate Naomi Pomeroy and national plaintiffs’ lawyer and Lieff Cabraser partner Robert J. Nelson. Together, the two are helping lead the charge of #RESTAURANTJUSTICE, a series of lawsuits filed against insurers who are denying restaurants’ business interruption insurance claims relating to the Coronavirus pandemic.

In May of 2020, Lieff Cabraser and co-counsel filed a nationwide federal class action breach of contract lawsuit in federal court in Oregon against multiple insurance companies on behalf of Naomi Pomeroy’s celebrated restaurant Beast and all similarly-situated restaurants with business interruption insurance from the defendant insurers. The complaint alleges that after Pomeroy’s Beast restaurant suffered catastrophic financial losses in the wake of government-ordered shutdowns, the restaurant’s business interruption policy claims were wrongly denied coverage by Berkley North Pacific Group and the related insurers. The lawsuit was filed on the heels of other, earlier restaurant business interruption insurance claim denial lawsuits filed by Lieff Cabraser including those on behalf of Daniel Patterson and his restaurants Coi and Alta, and on behalf of Pim Techamuanvivit and her San Francisco restaurants Kin Khao and Nari. Lieff Cabraser currently represents more than one hundred insurance-denied restaurants, and additional lawsuits are expected to follow. The lawsuits may well end up coordinated by the federal courts into a single multidistrict litigation involving a wide range of restaurants and their insurers.

“We feel strongly that people have been paying these premiums for many years,” explained Nelson, “and finally an occasion has arisen that required them to close and they suffered this business interruption and are entitled to whatever insurance their policy provides. We are bringing suit on their behalf and we are in it, and are committed to it, and are going to fight like the dickens to prevail,” he said. “We are hopeful that we’ll be able to provide some relief to the many restaurateurs out there who, as Naomi says, are struggling through no fault of their own; we’re all in this pandemic together.”

Listen to the full discussion on the OpenTable In it Together website.

Contact a Business Interruption Insurance Denial Attorney

While some insurers are showing extraordinary compassion and flexibility in responding to virus related claims, other insurers are refusing to pay business interruption claims despite restaurants having faithfully paid costly premiums for decades. We think this is wrong, an atrocity that threatens to decimate America’s most beloved restaurants.

If your restaurant’s business interruption insurance claims have been denied after the government-ordered shutdown of all or part of your business, then contact a Business Interruption Insurance Denial attorney at Lieff Cabraser today using the form on this page to start the conversation and learn how you can get justice and recover for your losses.

About Robert Nelson

A partner in Lieff Cabraser’s San Francisco office and the Chair of the firm’s False Claims Act practice group, Robert has played a leading role in Lieff Cabraser’s qui tam, automotive, aviation, mass tort, tobacco, and consumer fraud cases. He has served as court-appointed Lead or Co-Lead Counsel in numerous state and federal coordinated proceedings and over 35 class actions. Robert was lead trial counsel in a product defect case against Chrysler that resulted in a substantial punitive damage verdict, for which he was a recipient of California Lawyer Magazine’s Attorney of the Year (CLAY) award. He later received a second CLAY award for his work as lead trial counsel in obtaining a substantial settlement against the University of Phoenix, one of the largest ever achieved involving fraud against the Department of Education under the False Claims Act. Robert is a four-time nominee for CAOC Consumer Attorney of the Year.  In 2019, Robert was named Public Justice’s Trial Lawyer of the Year for his work on the State Farm insurance fraud RICO litigation.

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