Native American Tribes Seek Pandemic-Related Relief

Several Native American tribes and nations have had difficulty obtaining insurance coverage after the COVID-19 pandemic forced them into closing resorts and casinos.

The Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin’s had a proposed class suit against Lexington Insurance Co. and other insurers thrown out by a federal judge in California. The judge claimed that the pandemic did not constitute “direct physical loss or damage” to the tribe’s property.

Burns Bowen Bair co-founder Tim Burns serves as counsel for Menominee. In an interview with Law360, he said that cases such as this are, “something that nobody had anticipated— state courts are focusing on policy language and federal courts are focusing almost exclusively on earlier case law, instead of reading the policy as a whole.” He went on to say that, “In an ideal world, if we are to have any hope that the legal process will actually honor the meaning of ordinary people in interpreting insurance policies, Congress would pass a law sending decisions on the ordinary meaning of undefined insurance policy terms to civil juries.”

Read the full story at Law360.