Edmonton Oilers sue insurers for $174 million over ‘massive’ pandemic losses

The Edmonton Oilers and its associated companies are suing four insurance companies over what is described in a statement filed with the Court of Queen’s Bench as “massive business losses” over a two-year period during the pandemic.

On March 12, 2020, the NHL suspended its season. Soon after, mandatory government orders prevented fans, patrons and customers from entering or using the Rogers Place arena.

The lawsuit, filed March 16, 2022, says the COVID-19 virus has physically altered the indoor air, surfaces and interior of Rogers Place, “rendering them unfit for their intended purpose.”

The insurers, say the plaintiffs, decided that “viruses do not cause physical loss or damage”.

The statement suggests that if the Oilers organization had allowed fans to return to the building in 2020 and 2021, “it is certain that COVID-19 and the COVID-19 virus would have been reintroduced in large quantities to these assured places and further and substantial physical loss and damage would have continued.”

According to the court document, the prevalence of COVID-19 in the province has reached “materially dangerous levels” that were underestimated at the start of the pandemic due to limited testing and contract hunting.

“The presence of COVID-19 and the COVID-19 virus at the plaintiffs’ facilities has rendered normal use of these facilities impossible for nearly two years,” the court document states, adding that the facility is in a location high-density and adjacent to an LRT station, which resulted in “many infectious people” carrying the virus into and onto their properties by “breathing, talking, coughing, screaming and touching each other”.

Comprehensive policy taken out

The Oilers group of companies purchased what is called an all-risk policy, which it said was meant to protect them against business interruption, including any interruption caused by a pandemic, the lawsuit says.

“Plaintiffs suffered massive business losses covered by the all-risks policy. Defendants refused to honor the terms of the all-risks policy and refused cover … on the grounds that the business interruption did not result from direct physical loss or damage to property,” the court document reads.

(Radio Canada)

The Edmonton Arena Corporation, which leases Rogers Place Arena from the city, is claiming a loss of $15,318,909.00. The Oilers hockey team calculated the biggest loss at $85,260,677.00, while the Oil Kings lost $4,736,456 over the same two-year period.

Another $36,294,162.00 is the loss calculated by the Oilers Entertainment Group, the operators of Rogers Place and the entity responsible for raffles and games claims to have lost $32,526,927.00.

The statement names AIG Insurance Company of Canada, Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance Company of Canada, Liberty Mutual Insurance Company and The Sovereign General Insurance Company as defendants.

According to the lawsuit, the reason Rogers Place was able to recently reopen to the public was because of the wide availability of vaccines and boosters as well as the “extensive repairs and preventative measures undertaken.”

An Oilers spokesman declined to comment on the lawsuit.

A separate lawsuit filed by the same Calgary law firm on behalf of the owner of the JW Marriott Edmonton Ice District hotel echoes the same allegations against its four insurers. This statement calculates insured losses at $15,025,00.00.

A lawsuit filed on behalf of the JW Marriott Edmonton Ice District alleges $15 million in pandemic-related losses. (JW Marriott Edmonton Ice District/Facebook)

No defense has been filed and the allegations contained in the statements have not been proven in court.

Last June, 20 NHL teams, including five Canadian clubs – the Toronto Maple Leafs, Ottawa Senators, Winnipeg Jets, Montreal Canadiens and Vancouver Canucks – sued their insurers for over $1 billion for pandemic-related losses, according to a TSN report in January.

Earlier this month, the Calgary Flames filed a $125 million lawsuit against its insurers.

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