Covid-19 Lawsuits

 In Business, Real Estate
1. Covid-19 Lawsuits

Covid-19 lawsuits against insurance companies seeking insurance benefits under Business Income, Extra Expense, or Civil Authority provisions of policies so far have been unsuccessful. Many of these cases have been decided at the pleading stage. Some have been given a chance to amend the pleading and some are on appeal. Insurance companies usually take the position that losses are not covered due to no direct physical loss or damage to the subject property.

2. Judge Cancels Deed of Trust on Home Because Wife Did Not Execute the Deed Even Though Title Held as Joint Tenants – Trenk v Soheili
3. New State Law Increases Bankruptcy Homestead Exemptions Dramatically

A.B. 1885 increases homestead exemptions from between $75k and $175k currently, to between $300 and $600k starting January 1, 2021. The new law allows homeowners to protect more of the value of their home from creditors.

Comment: Just in time for the holidays when the expected surge and Bk filings as a result of Covid. Lenders are going to have a very unhappy 2021 watching their portfolio values diminished substantially. Just like businesses leaving the state, are lenders going to increase their underwriting standards or just stop making loans in California?
4. Failure of Tenant to Obtain Renter’s Insurance is Grounds for Eviction

The lease requires tenant to obtain renter’s insurance in an amount to protect renter or renter’s property from any loss covered by insurance. Renter failed to obtain insurance. Landlord served 3-day notice to perform covenant or quit. Renter did not obtain insurance within 3 days. Tenant’s defense was landlord’s breach of good faith and fair dealing. Court held for landlord and tenant evicted. Boston LLC v Juarez.

5. Homeowner Liability

Homeowner asked gardener to trim trees. Gardener’s employee, while trimming tree, falls from ladder and severely injured. Injured employee sues gardener and homeowner. Homeowner held liable. Jones v Sorenson

Reason:  Gardener did not have a D‑49 contractor’s license. That is required to trim, remove, or prune trees 15 ft or taller. Gardener did not have worker’s compensation insurance to cover employee’s injuries nor a contractor’s license. Under Labor Code § 27.55, homeowners therefore legally considered injured worker’s employer and therefore responsible for worker’s damages.

Comment: How many of you hire someone to hang your Christmas lights on your house and not check to see if the person on that ladder has insurance? Same for tree trimming on trees over 15ft tall.
6. Real Estate Broker Representing Seller Owes a Duty to Buyer to Disclose Substantial Risk that Seller Could Not Transfer Title Free and Clear of all Loans Encumbering Property

Home loans far exceeded the purchase price. Relying on buying the house, the buyers sold their home. Upon receiving the preliminary title report, buyers first discover all the loans which the seller and the listing agent were aware of but failed to disclose. Holmes v Summer

About the Author

  • Scott Souders
    Scott Souders Attorney & Author


Scott Souders is a real estate attorney who has practiced real estate law in excess of 43 years in Southern California. The Real Estate Law Update cites cases or statutes which are summarized and should not be relied upon without fully reading the cases or statute in the advance sheets and shepardizing the same and consulting with your own attorney.

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