Raleigh, N.C. — The North Carolina Court of Appeals has reversed a ruling involving a lawsuit brought by two acclaimed Triangle restaurant owners against its insurance company for not honoring their business interruption policies when they had to close as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The suit was filed in May 2020 on behalf of Matt Kelly, who owns Mateo Bar de Tapas, Mothers & Sons Trattoria, Saint James Seafood and Lucky’s Delicatessen, and Giorgios Bakatsias, owner of Vin Rouge, Parizade, Rosewater, Bin 54, City Kitchen, Village Burger and Kipos, Farm Table and Gatehouse Tavern, against the Cincinnati Insurance Company.
In the lawsuit, the owners asked the insurance company to honor its contracts by “requiring payment for lost business income, extra expenses, and other business related losses in light of COVID-19 and the related actions by governmental authorities requiring closure of their covered business premises.”
In October 2020, a Durham County Superior Court judge ruled in favor of the restaurants, saying the losses should be covered.
Cincinnati Insurance Companies appealed the decision, which was heard in March of this year by a three-judge panel of the North Carolina Court of Appeals.
In the ruling filed Tuesday, Judge Chris Dillon wrote that the panel found that the “unambiguous terms of the policies did not provide the coverage plaintiffs sought.”
“My clients — Matt Kelly, Giorgios Bakatsias, their partners and restaurants — have suffered tremendous losses from the Covid-19 pandemic and the government shutdown orders,” attorney Gagan Gupta told WRAL on Tuesday. “We are disappointed by today’s ruling from the North Carolina Court of Appeals which reverses the lower court’s ruling requiring my clients’ insurer, The Cincinnati Insurance Company, to help pay for those losses. The lower court’s ruling was the correct ruling and we are considering the full range of options to hold Cincinnati to the promises it made in the business interruption insurance policy that it sold to my clients.”