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Acclaimed Chef Sues Insurer For Business Interruption Coverage Amid Pandemic Closures

 Tuesday, March 31, 2020

 Restaurant Hospitality

Chef Thomas Keller has joined the ranks of a small but growing number of restaurateurs who are suing their insurance companies over claims related to the Covid-19 pandemic, his restaurant group said Thursday.

Keller’s attorney, John Houghtaling, on Wednesday evening filed in the Superior Court of California County of Napa for a declaratory judgment on behalf of Keller’s business interruption insurance policy against Hartford Fire Insurance Company.

Keller, based in the Napa town of Yountville, is chef and owner of The French Laundry, Per Se, Bouchon, Bouchon Bakery and Ad Hoc + Addendum.

Houghtaling is the majority partner in New Orleans based law firm Gauthier Murphy & Houghtaling LLC. He was selected by Louisiana’s attorney general to determine policyholder rights in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. He also represented many victims of superstorm Sandy.

The lawsuit requests that the court make a legally binding decision on whether Keller’s policy with Hartford allows him to recover business losses incurred in connection with the viral outbreak.