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Bi-Economy Market, Inc. v. Harleysville Ins. Co.

New York Court of Appeals
886 N.E.2d 127 (2008)


Facts

Bi-Economy Market, Inc. (Bi-Economy) (plaintiff) was a retail meat market that purchased an insurance policy from Harleysville Insurance Co. (Harleysville) (defendant). One of the coverages in this policy was business-interruption coverage. Through the business-interruption coverage, the policy promised to pay Bi-Economy for any lost business income during any period in which Bi-Economy could not operate its business, for up to 12 months. This coverage was designed to provide financial support to help Bi-Economy recover from a disaster and eventually continue operating. While the policy was in effect, a fire caused Bi-Economy to shut down its market. Bi-Economy made a claim to Harleysville for the policy’s business-interruption benefits. Initially, Harleysville refused to pay the full claim, paying only approximately $163,000. Over the next year, Harleysville offered to pay for only seven months of lost business income even though the policy provided for 12 months of coverage. More than a year after the fire, an alternative-dispute-resolution body ordered Harleysville to pay Bi-Economy an additional approximately $244,000 in business-interruption benefits. By then, Bi-Economy’s business had completely collapsed. Bi-Economy sued Harleysville. Although Bi-Economy had eventually received its direct contractual benefits under the policy, it argued that Harleysville’s breach delayed the payment of time-sensitive proceeds, which then caused the collapse of Bi-Economy’s business. Bi-Economy sought additional damages for the complete collapse of the business as special or consequential damages for Harleysville’s breach of its policy contract.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Pigott, J.)

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