Judge dismisses Jimmy’s lawsuit
September 16, 2011
ASPEN – A judge has dismissed an Aspen restaurant’s lawsuit that claimed its insurance carrier should reimburse it for financial losses stemming from a bomb scare.
In an eight-page ruling she delivered Sept. 6, Pitkin County Judge Gail Nichols wrote that losses Jimmy’s An American Restaurant and Bar suffered the night of the threat were not covered under the terrorism provision of its insurance policy.
The East Hopkins Avenue restaurant was one of dozens of Aspen businesses police evacuated on New Year’s Eve of 2008, when Aspen resident Jim Blanning planted four homemade bombs downtown. A bomb squad out of Grand Junction detonated the explosives. No one was injured, but the threat crippled business for Aspen bars and restaurants on one of the year’s most lucrative nights.
On New Year’s Day, Blanning, 71, was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot, in a vehicle just east of Aspen toward Independence Pass.
The incident prompted Jimmy’s to sue its insurance carrier, the Continental Divide Insurance Co., last December, two years after the bomb scare.
Its lawsuit argued that the restaurant should be covered for its financial losses because Blanning committed an act of terrorism. Continental countered that the policy, however, did not cover Jimmy’s lost business income because there was no damage to the restaurant property.
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Nichols agreed: “Jimmy’s suffered lost business income due to the order of evacuation resulting from what is presumed to be an act of terrorism,” she wrote. “Jimmy’s did not suffer a ‘direct physical loss of or damages to covered property’ as a result of an act of terrorism’ … therefore, Jimmy’s lost business income is not covered by the policy.”
Nichols’ ruling came after Continental Divide filed a motion to dismiss the case. The insurance company also referenced a lawsuit by United Airlines against its insurance carrier after the Sept. 11 attacks. United, like Jimmy’s, had to suspend operations after 9/11, but not because of physical damage to its property, according to the insurance company’s motion. An appellate court ruled that United’s claim for damages against its insurance carrier was not valid.
Jimmy’s had sought more than $100,000 from Continental Divide, based on the amount in the amount of paid reservations it had for the night. Aspen attorney Richard Cummins, who filed the suit, was not available for immediate comment Thursday.