As the year progresses, state and federal courts of law will continue to address legal issues raised by COVID-19. A recent decision comes from the Middle District of Florida, which recently granted an insurance company business to dismiss a dentist's complaint provided for in the company's income and civil service insurance policies.
I Martinez, DMD, P.A. v. Allied Insurance Company of America 1 the carrier provided a commercial insurance to a dentist. In March 2020, the Florida governor issued an executive order declaring a state of emergency in Florida due to COVID-19 and President Trump, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and Medicaid recommended that dentists restrict unnecessary dental practices. In its complaint, the dental office claimed that it (1
After experiencing monetary losses, the office claimed that the carrier violated the insurance policy by denying benefits according to the business income and the civil authority regulations in the insurance. Along with physical injuries, the dentist maintained monetary losses from the need to decontaminate and close and also suffered a loss of business revenue. which exemption may be granted under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12 (b) (6). As a reason, the carrier cited the policy, claiming that there was no coverage because there was no action by civil authority prohibiting access to dental care, that no damage had occurred within a mile radius, and the policy included an exclusion for loss or damage caused "directly. or indirectly "by" [a] new virus, bacterium or other micro-organism which induces or may induce physical distress, disease or illness.
After considering the arguments of the adviser and the Court of Justice, the claims were accepted as true, and the insurer's motion to reject, stating that because the damage was due to a virus, it does not fall under the policy 'covered cause of loss'.
Although this decision comes from the Middle District of Florida, other courts will continue to contend with legal issues arising from COVID-19. To stay aware of the changing legal landscape, insured persons should consult skilled legal counsel to assist them with any uncertainty.
1 Martinez v. Allied Ins. Co. of Am. 220CV00401, 2020 WL 5240218 (M.D. Fla. 2 September 2020).