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1 May 20232 minute read

DLA Piper secures significant defense win for Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company

DLA Piper achieved a significant defense victory for client Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company in a lawsuit filed by Marina Pacific Hotel and Suites, marking the conclusion of the first COVID-19 business interruption trial in California.

Marina Pacific Hotel and Suites, which owns the Hotel Erwin in Venice Beach, California, filed a lawsuit against Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company on July 21, 2020 alleging breach of contract, bad faith, unfair competition and elder abuse. The case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

On April 27, after 90 minutes of deliberation following a three-week trial, the jury returned a defense verdict finding that the COVID-19 virus does not cause physical loss or damage to property as required under the property insurance policy. The verdict is consistent with court decisions across the country that have ruled as a matter of law the COVID-19 virus cannot cause physical loss or damage.

Plaintiffs had appealed the trial court’s favorable demurrer ruling to the California Court of Appeal. In its July 13, 2022 decision, that the Court of Appeal acknowledged was an outlier, the Court of Appeal reversed the superior court’s order and remanded the case for trial.

The DLA Piper trial team consisted of John Phillips (San Francisco), Brett Ingerman (Baltimore), Joe Davison (Seattle) with support from Bob McFadden (Seattle) and Sandy Holstrom (San Francisco).