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Report: Judge Dismisses French Laundry Lawsuit Against Insurer Over COVID-19 Relief

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- A judge dismissed a lawsuit Tuesday brought by popular restaurant French Laundry against its insurance company over COVID-19 funding, ruling that a virus exclusion in the contract holds up, according to a report.

U.S. District Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley ruled Hartford Fire Insurance Co.'s contract covering chef Thomas Keller's two Napa Valley restaurants, The French Laundry and Bouchon Bistro, had a virus exemption, so it does not have to cover the restaurants' losses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"While the court acknowledges the havoc that the COVID-19 pandemic and consequent shelter-in-place orders have caused businesses throughout this country and the world, the court cannot read an ambiguity into an insurance contract where none exists," Corley said in her ruling, according to

Keller, whose company filed the lawsuit back last March, was one of the first prominent restaurateurs to sue an insurance company for coverage during the pandemic. The French Laundry made quite a few headlines last year for hosting parties when the state was on lockdown. Gov. Gavin Newsom and San Francisco Mayor London Breed both apologized after attending parties there.

The case was French Laundry Partners LP et al. v. Hartford Fire Insurance Co., case number 3:20-cv-4540, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

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