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Washington Tribal Casino Wins COVID-19 Insurance coverage Claim Lawsuit

Washington Tribal Casino Wins COVID-19 Insurance coverage Claim Lawsuit

Posted on: September 8, 2021, 09:49h.&nbsp

Final updated on: September eight, 2021, 09:49h.

A Washington tribal casino owned and operated by the Snoqualmie Indian Tribe can collect insurance funds for damages and losses incurred by COVID-19. That is according to Washington Superior Court Judge Catherine Shaffer, who ruled in favor of the tribe last week.

Washington tribal casino Snoqualmie
A large audience attends a music concert at the Snoqualmie Casino outdoor performance venue in July of 2019. The casino has won a court fight with its insurer that enables the tribal owner of the resort to recoup lost income brought on by COVID-19. (Image: K5 NBC News)

A federally recognized Native American group, the Snoqualmie Tribe sought insurance coverage compensation from their insurer — FM International — for income losses sustained by the coronavirus pandemic.

FM Global and its Washington subsidiary Affiliated FM argued that due to the fact there was no physical loss or harm to the properties, the coverage accessible to the tribal casino was capped at $one hundred,000. That was the amount that the casino’s insurance coverage policy covered for operating losses related to “communicable disease.”

The tribe contended that its $150 million all round policy extended to COVID-19 because of the policy’s stipulating that the complete coverage shields “all dangers of physical loss or harm.” Judge Shaffer agreed, and directed FB Global to communicate with the tribe to figure out a compensation figure far larger than the issued $one hundred,000 coverage amount.

The Snoqualmie individuals opened their Snoqualmie Casino in Snoqualmie, Wa., in 2008.

Major Victory

Since industrial casinos have been very first ordered to shutter their resort and gaming operations during the earliest stages of the pandemic in March of 2020, lawsuits against insurers refusing to pay out on revenue losses have filled courts. Tribal casinos, which are not needed to adhere to state orders, as they operate on their sovereign land under their personal governments, voluntarily closed to assist in the pandemic response.

Tribes, like industrial casinos, sought insurance coverage compensation. Courts have largely sided with the insurance coverage organizations, but there have been a handful of victories for casinos, the latest being the Snoqualmie Casino.

The Snoqualmie Casino is the closest gaming venue with slot machines and table games to Seattle. A roughly 30-minute drive from the city, the casino right now homes 1,700 slot machines and 54 table games. The resort functions several restaurants, sportsbook, an outside concert venue, and meeting facilities.

In her judgment, Shaffer concluded that Affiliated FM’s business interruption insurance policy issued to the Snoqualmie Casino didn’t clearly clarify that such a pandemic would not be covered.

Simply because the phrase ‘all dangers of physical loss or damage’ is stated in this disjunctive, the term ‘physical loss’ must imply some thing other than ‘damage,’” she declared. “A reasonable interpretation of the phrase is that the tribe was deprived of the capacity to physically use or operate its properties simply because of the COVID-19-associated closures.”

Shaffer has ordered the tribe and insurance coverage carrier to negotiate a settlement. FM International did not immediately respond to the court outcome, but it could appeal the ruling.

Tribe Donates Money

The Snoqualmie Indian Tribe, a small Native American group with much less than 1,000 members, was negatively impacted by COVID-19. But the virus hasn’t stopped the tribe from carrying on with its charitable endeavors.

Last month, the Snoqualmie Tribe distributed a lot more than $650,000 to quite a few nonprofits all through the state of Washington. Tribal officials said the focus of this year’s donations were veterans’ applications, arts and culture organizations, Native solutions, family help, salmon habitat restoration and protection, and environmental education in the Snoqualmie Valley.

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