The operators of four Planet Fitness franchises claim Atlantic Specialty Insurance Company has wrongfully failed to cover damages sustained after the gyms were forced to close amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the case, the Florida gyms each purchased an Atlantic all-risk policy that purported to provide business interruption, extra expense, and civil authority coverage. Notably, the policies contained no exclusion that would allow the defendant to deny coverage for losses caused by COVID-19 and related government actions, the suit says.
The plaintiffs relay they were forced to suspend business operations in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 outbreak and orders from Florida Governor Ron DeSantis that mandated the closure of gyms and fitness centers, among other restrictions. Per the complaint, customers come to Planet Fitness “from all over,” and the plaintiffs “have no reliable way of knowing” whether any of their customers were infected with the coronavirus.
“Property owned by Plaintiffs or others is capable of being contaminated by direct physical contact from an infected person(s) either knowingly or unwittingly,” the complaint reads, adding that the property owner would thus be unable to use the gym, “even though structurally unaltered,” until the premises is sanitized and returned to its pre-COVID-19 condition.
The plaintiffs allege that their Planet Fitness gyms have each suffered a suspension of business operations and losses of business income due to the presence of COVID-19 and actions taken by civil authorities.
“These losses have continued through the date of filing of this action,” the complaint says, arguing that because the losses are not excluded from coverage under their “all-risk” Atlantic policies, and given the fact the gyms complied with their contractual obligations to pay policy premiums, the plaintiffs are entitled to payment for their losses.
Contrary to the “plain language” of the policies, however, the defendant has refused to pay for the plaintiffs’ losses, the lawsuit alleges.
According to the suit, although the plaintiffs each submitted a timely claim under their respective policies, the defendant has refused to accept the claims and instead “asserted a reservation of rights without basis.”
The lawsuit, mirroring the allegations presented in a slew of litigation filed against commercial property insurers over their apparent denial of COVID-19-related claims, has been removed from state to federal court in Florida.
ClassAction.org’s coverage of COVID-19 litigation can be found here and over on our Newswire.