West Flagler Suing Four Insurance Companies Over COVID-19 Claims

Posted on: May 27, 2021, 11:27h.ย 

Last updated on: May 27, 2021, 11:27h.

West Flagler Associates, the holding company for Florida gaming venues including Flagler Dog Track and Magic City Casino, is suing several insurance providers, demanding they make good on coronavirus-related claims while alleging conspiratorial behavior.

Magic City
A slots player at Magic City Casino in Miami. Owner West Flagler Associates is suing four insurance companies. (Image: NBC6)

In the case West Flagler Associates v. Indian Harbor Insurance Company et al. filed in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, the plaintiff asserts four insurance companies must pony up for pandemic-related losses because the policies West Flagler had with those providers did not include stipulations regarding contagions or pandemics.

The plaintiff says the quartet of insurance firms โ€” Indian Harbor, Hallmark, Ategrity and Great Lakes โ€” conspired to add such provisions after the city of Miami forced a temporary closure of the casino and racetrack in March 2020.

In reliance on the coverages in defendantsโ€™ insurance policies, plaintiff paid millions of dollars in payroll to its employees while shut down by government orders and incurred great expenses to resume and maintain business operations,โ€ according to the complaint. โ€œDespite agreeing to cover exactly those kinds of losses, defendants have wrongfully denied coverage.โ€

The four insurance companies are supposed to cover losses up to $25 million, notes the legal document. The case was filed in New York due to provisions in the various policies.

Conspiracy Claims

Magic City Casino doesnโ€™t hold back in the legal document, levying seven counts against the insurance companies.

In addition to conspiracy, those complaints include , breach of contract, conspiracy, and tortious interference and violations of New York business law related to an alleged conspiracy. Supporting the conspiracy claim, the plaintiff says the updated insurance policies contained remarkably similar language used to deny the COVID-19 claims.

โ€œTellingly, defendants changed their subsequent insurance policies with plaintiff by expressly excluding coverage of losses caused by viruses,โ€ according to the complaint. โ€œThat change demonstrates that the policies do not exclude such coverage or, at a minimum, are unclear as to such coverage, and such ambiguity must be resolved in favor of coverage for the insured.โ€

West Flagler is asking that a judge declare Indian Harbor, Hallmark, Ategrity and Great Lakes are obligated to make good on the financial claims and the plaintiff is pursuing a jury trial for the other complaints.

Common Theme in Coronavirus Environment

West Flagler is far from the first gaming company to pursue litigation against insurance companies in the wake of the pandemic.

Last year, multiple tribal gaming operators sued insurance providers to secure pandemic payouts. In Las Vegas, billionaire Phil Ruffinโ€™s Circus Circus sued American International Group (AIG) while his Treasure Island also filed a legal complaint against an insurance company.

In March 2021, Caesars Entertainment brought a $2 billion suit against a group of insurers, including Allianz, Chubb, Aspen, and Lloyds of London, claiming those providers refused to make good on coronavirus payouts.