The owners of some of Logan Square’s more popular bars and restaurants — Parson’s Chicken & Fish, Longman & Eagle, Lost Lake, Pink Squirrel, and Bixi Beer — have filed a joint lawsuit against their insurance company over denied claims tied to the COVID-19 pandemic. Attorneys filed the lawsuit Monday in Cook County circuit court and claimed Society Insurance should have granted cash payouts to cover losses incurred after the state closed all dine-in restaurants on March 17.
The state has ordered dine-in restaurants and bars to remain closed though April as part of Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s stay-at-home order. This new lawsuit is yet another on the pile filed against Wisconsin-based Society Insurance, as plaintiffs claim their coverage should handle losses due to work stoppages caused by disasters. Last week, the owners of River West burger bar Maillard Tavern filed their own business interruption insurance lawsuit. In March, six hospitality groups, including Big Onion Tavern Group, filed a joint lawsuit in federal court.
Business interruption insurance is a type of coverage that triggers cash payouts when businesses, like restaurants, aren’t able to operate. Insurance companies have claimed that coverage doesn't include disease, arguing that illness don’t constitute property damage. But as restaurants — especially smaller ones — struggle with securing coronavirus relief through loans or grants, owners are hopeful that payments from insurance companies can help stop the bleeding.
La Luna in Pilsen is listed as a plaintiff. Run by Samantha Sanchez (her father, Sam Sanchez, owns Old Crow and other bars and is active in the Illinois Restaurant Association). The lawsuit alleges a La Luna worker was diagnosed with COVID-19. Samantha Sanchez says she took the needed safety precautions after they found out about the diagnosis. They closed for two weeks and the restaurant underwent a deep clean. La Luna restarted pickup and delivery on Tuesday.
Another plaintiff, Owen & Engine in Logan Square — which is currently closed — also had a worker with COVID-19, according to the lawsuit. Other plaintiffs are Land & Sea Dept.’s Lost Lake, Golden Teardrops, Parson’s (Lincoln Park and Logan Square), and Longman & Eagle; Deadbolt and Pink Squirrel; Bixi Beer (same owners as Owen & Engine); Paddy Long’s in Lakeview; and Olive Mediterranean Grill.
The plaintiffs seek the cost of their denied claims. They did not provide a dollar amount. Society Insurance has not commented publicly on this case or any other business interruption lawsuits.
These lawsuits serve as a reminder that many attorneys are also investors in restaurants. Attorney Patrick Wartan is representing the plaintiffs in the suit filed Monday. He’s a partner in Brass Heart, the fine dining restaurant in Uptown, and sits on the board of the Illinois Restaurant Association. He’s also a partner in Fresh Stack Burger Company, the upcoming spot opening in Kildeer from Dave Thomas’s grandson, Sean Thomas.