Citing Taylor Swift, Court Ends Metallica’s Case Over COVID Insurance
Citing Taylor Swift, Court Ends Metallica’s Case Over COVID Insurance

In an unusual ruling cited by Taylor Swift’s “All Too Well,” a California appeals court has dismissed Metallica’s lawsuit demanding that its insurance company pay more than $3 million in damages stemming from concerts that were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ruling, issued Monday (March 18) by the California Court of Appeal, says six canceled 2020 COVID concerts in South America were not covered by Metallica’s insurance policy with Lloyd’s of London, thanks to a clear exclusion in the contract for any loss arising from “contagious diseases”.

The legendary rock group argued that the case should have gone to trial because a jury could decide that reasons other than COVID led to the cancellation. But justice Maria Strattonincredibly quoting Swift, said it was “absurd to think that the government shutdown wasn’t a result of Covid-19.”

“To paraphrase Taylor Swift: ‘We’ve been there.’ We remember it all too well,” the judge wrote. β€œIn March 2020, there was no vaccine against Covid-19 and no drugs to treat it. Fans were in short supply. N-95 masks were almost non-existent. Patients were treated in tents in hospital parking lots. The death toll from Covid-19 was unknown, but to give just one example of the potential death toll, until late March 2020, New York City was using refrigerated trucks as temporary morgues. People were horrified.”

Metallica’s case is one of many brought by musicians, venues, bars and other businesses seeking insurance coverage for damages caused by the COVID-19 outbreak, which has led to months of severe travel restrictions, forced closures and bans on large gatherings .

But like the Metallica case, most of those cases have so far been won by insurers. Many policies include express exclusions for problems caused by illness, such as the one in the group contract; other policies, such as many for physical businesses, often require “physical damage” that is difficult to show with a pandemic suspension.

The biggest such case in the music industry is a massive lawsuit filed by Live Nation seeking coverage from Factory Mutual Insurance Co. for more than 10,000 concerts (comprising a whopping 15 million tickets) that were canceled or postponed during the pandemic. After a judge refused to dismiss Live Nation’s charges in 2022, the case remains pending.

Metallica sued Lloyd’s of London in June 2021 after the insurer refused to cover their losses arising from the South American tour, which was due to start on 15 April 2020 but was postponed when the governments of Argentina, Chile and Brazil imposed strict restrictions amid the worsening pandemic.

Court documents show that in May 2020, the band filed a $3,234,569 loss stemming from the canceled concerts, covering things like $184,996 in payroll for retained crew members. But citing the disease exclusion, the insurer quickly dismissed the claim: “We regret to inform you that there is no coverage for this matter under this policy,” the company wrote in a June 2020 response letter.

In December 2022, a Los Angeles judge dismissed Metallica’s lawsuit and various arguments why Lloyds should have paid for the concerts β€” including ruling that the cancellations were caused by travel restrictions that were “a direct response to the growing COVID-19 pandemic.” .

In appealing that decision, Metallica argued that the jury could have found another reason for canceling the concerts. The band’s lawyers pointed to the fact that the venues later reopened and concerts were moved into 2022, “despite the continued presence of COVID.”

But in his ruling Monday, Judge Stratton said that argument missed the mark. With the advent of vaccines and more information, “a lot has changed” by spring 2022.

“People were able to make a more accurate analysis of the costs and benefits of restrictions against potential disease,” the judge wrote. “The fact that governments have chosen to lift restrictions at this point, two years after COVID-19 was first detected, in no way calls into question their reasons for imposing travel restrictions at the start of the pandemic.”

The judge also rejected Metallica’s various other arguments, such as the claim that the policy did not cover the COVID cancellations because it did not expressly use the term “virus”: “The insurance policy’s definition of communicable disease does not refer to any pathogens, nor limit the exclusion to to those infectious diseases caused by specific pathogens.

Attorneys for both sides did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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