Oceana Grill, a touristy Bourbon Street restaurant that previously sued the television show Kitchen Nightmares — twice — filed a lawsuit on Monday, March 20 in New Orleans seeking a judgment for its insurer to cover losses incurred while Louisiana’s restaurant dining rooms are closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Since cities and states around the country have started ordering restaurants and bars to shutter for dine-in service, questions have emerged around whether restaurants will qualify for insurance coverage. The general consensus is that a global pandemic probably won’t qualify for business interruption assistance, as it was created to cover closures due to property damage from natural disasters.
It appears Oceana Grill’s parent company Cajun Conti is one of the first to file an insurance coverage lawsuit. It’s asking for a judgement that insurer Lloyd’s of London covers lost revenue “due to civil-authority actions with coronavirus restrictions,” claiming its policy includes coverage for business interruption, including in “the event of the businesses closure by order of Civil Authority.”
It also states that its insurance policy doesn’t include a virus or pandemic exclusion for what qualifies as “business interruption,” which would “differentiate the restaurant’s situation from that of many other business policyholders in the U.S,” according to the Wall Street Journal.
The 500-seat restaurant filmed with Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares television show in 2011, after which it sued the show to block the episode from airing. While the episode ran anyway, when an old clip resurfaced on the show’s Facebook page in 2018, Cajun Conti sued Ramsay directly for defamation and for the specific clip from the episode to be blocked from use.
The company’s lawyer, John Houghtaling II, said the suit was filed now because of insurers placing doubt on whether coverage applies to the virus-related shutdowns. He added that “everyone is very concerned about the restaurant industry in New Orleans.”
Do you know of a local fund or initiative to support New Orleans’s service industry? A restaurant closing permanently due to impact? Let us know.
- Louisiana Closes Bars and Limits Restaurants to Takeout for at Least a Month [ENOLA]
- Coronavirus Will Cost Businesses Billions. Insurance May Not Help. [NYTIMES]
- What Restaurants Need Right Now to Actually Survive [EAT]
- A French Quarter Restaurant Is Suing Gordon Ramsay [ENOLA]
- Restaurants and Bars Shuttered Across the U.S. in Light of Coronavirus Pandemic [EAT]
- New Orleans Restaurant Kicks Off Coronavirus Insurance Coverage Litigation [WSJ]