Susman Godfrey LLP has filed a breach of contract class-action suit against Sentinel Insurance Company on behalf of a proposed class of businesses led by Protégé Restaurant Partners, a Michelin-starred restaurant located in Palo Alto, California.
The proposed class seeks damages and injunctive relief arising from Sentinel’s refusal to pay COVID-19-related business interruption claims as required by the insurance policies it sold to the plaintiff and other policyholders.
In response to California and Santa Clara County mandates due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Protégé was forced to close its doors in mid-March. The company had previously purchased an insurance policy from Sentinel, which indemnifies it against business income lost due to the shutdown of its operations.
Sentinel has refused to provide protection, citing policy exclusions and coverage defenses. According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ database, Sentinel collects $650 million per year in annual premiums for commercial insurance, including business interruption policies.
“Our client purchased this policy as insurance against losses that the complaint alleges the carrier is required to pay,” said Susman Godfrey partner Steven Sklaver, co-lead lawyer on the matter. “Unfortunately, despite pocketing substantial premiums for coverage, when it came time to live up to their end of the insurance bargain, Sentinel refused to ease the financial burden suffered by Protégé and the other businesses affected by COVID-19.”
The case is Protégé Restaurant Partners LLC, on Behalf of Itself and All Others Similarly Situated, v. Sentinel Insurance Company, Limited; Case No. 5:20-cv-03674 in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.