CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Law firms collectively announced Monday the filing of an additional lawsuit on behalf of a Chicago retail business that is suffering a devastating financial loss in the COVID-19 crisis.
Recent lawsuits have been filed on behalf of restaurants that have had their insurance companies deny claims for business interruption losses. The lawsuits detail that those losses should be covered and paid under the insurance contracts. Resolution of these claims is essential to the economic survival of these businesses, said personal injury law firm Romanucci & Blandin, LLC, insurance policyholder’s law firms Rutter & Russin, LLC and Spangenberg, Shibley & Liber, LLP, in a statement.
A suit was filed May 6, 2020 in Cook County, Illinois. The plaintiff is the owner of UpMerch, a retail business in Chicago’s River North neighborhood that provides custom apparel to companies, teams, and event planners. The defendant is Continental Casualty Company (CNA Insurance), to which the business owner made contractual premium payments, expecting compensation during their time of need, according to the policy written by the insurance company.
The lawsuit is seeking a declaratory judgement from the court, meaning a decision that finds the insurance company owes the business owner coverage and improperly issued a denial. The lawsuit is not seeking additional damages.
“We have worked long and hard to build our business and we are doing our best to endure this pandemic so we can get back to serving our customers and contributing the local economy, but we absolutely need the proceeds we are due from our insurance claim to survive,” said Kevin Alsterda, owner of UpMerch, in a statement.
The law firms said this business and others have suffered an overwhelming financial impact that threatens their survival following the State of Illinois shut down of restaurants, bars, retailers and movie theaters announced on March 15, 2020, as an emergency measure to stop the spread of COVID-19. A few days later, on March 20, 2020, the Governor of Illinois expanded the order and closed all “non-essential businesses.” These lawsuits do not question the necessity of the business closures nor criticize the Governor of Illinois for doing so, but rather demand the insurance companies meet their contractual obligation for which they have been paid by these responsible business owners.
“The insurance companies need to do the right thing and meet their contractual obligation for business interruption claims. These are the policies they wrote themselves, and they were more than willing to accept the premium payments from business owners. We need to ensure the survival of the retail and restaurant industries for the long-term health of our nation’s economy,” said Antonio Romanucci, Founding Partner of Romanucci & Blandin, LLC.