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Judge Says Metallica's COVID-19 Lawsuit Can Proceed

A Los Angeles, California, state court has refused to dismiss pandemic-related event cancellation litigation filed by heavy-metal band Metallica despite a virus exclusion in its policy.

The California Superior Court held in Frantic, Inc. v. Certain Underwriters at Lloyds, et al., that it could not dismiss a lawsuit over a canceled South American tour at this preliminary stage of the litigation because a "proximate cause" has not been established as to what caused the loss involved.

Metallica began an eight-show tour starting with two performances in San Francisco in September 2019. Those were to be followed by six shows in South America, the first of which was scheduled for April 15, 2020, in Santiago, Chile. The South American shows were postponed because of the pandemic shutdown.

The band sued Lloyd's Underwriters after they refused to provide coverage for the postponements, charging breach of contract and tortious breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing.

While Lloyd's contended the pandemic caused the cancellations and therefore it should prevail because of the policy's virus exclusion, Metallica argued that Lloyd's "cannot conclusively say that the Pandemic is the efficient proximate cause of the cancellations because there are other adequately alleged causes that are covered under the Policy," the ruling said.

The complaint alleges "that travel restrictions, the duty to mitigate damages, the need to 'flatten the curve' and stay-at-home orders all caused the Shows' cancellations," the ruling further said.

The plaintiff argued that COVID-19 and SARS-CoV-2 "still exist but that travel restrictions and restrictions on social gatherings have lifted and eased, suggesting that it was something more than just the virus/disease that caused the cancellations," it said.

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