Al Johnson’s Sues Insurance Company over Virus Claim

The impact of the coronavirus continues to spread to new corners of the economy. The owners of Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant have filed suit against Society Insurance to recoup revenue lost as a result of the statewide shutdown of bars and restaurants. 

The suit, filed in Door County Circuit Court on April 13, seeks to force Society Insurance to cover business losses related to coronavirus closures. The restaurant’s attorney, Lee Seese of the firm Michael Best and Friedrich, said that the owners of Al Johnson’s paid for business-interruption insurance and were forced to close when Gov. Tony Evers issued his Safer at Home order. The Johnsons say their policy does not include an exclusion for losses due to a virus, as some insurance policies do.

“Al Johnson’s submitted a claim that was denied the very same day it was submitted,” Seese said, and he said Society Insurance did not cite a specific reason for the denial, as would usually be the case. “Ordinarily an insurance company would point you back to specific language in the policy in a denial. They haven’t done that here. Society, like other insurance companies, is resorting to broad statements that pandemics aren’t covered.”

In an email, a spokesperson for the insurance company said: “Society does not comment on ongoing litigation. We look forward to a favorable resolution of this situation in the near future.”

Society Insurance specializes in restaurant insurance, billing itself as insurance “for restaurant owners, by restaurant owners.”

The Pabst Theater Group and Colectivo Coffee in Milwaukee have also filed suit over denied insurance claims seeking class-action status. If approved by a judge, any business covered by Society or Cincinnati Insurance could join the case. 

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