Chicago Nightclub Insurer Sues to Avoid Payment

March 20, 2003

Liquor establishment specialty insurer Illinois Casualty Co. has filed suit to avoid payment on two policies held by the Chicago nightclub and restaurant where 21 people died last month in a stampede, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Illinois Casualty filed suit in Cook County against the Epitome nightclub and restaurant, known legally as the Heroes Sports Bar & Grill Inc., asking that a judge void the policies. The company’s lawyers listed nine statements on the Epitome application it claimed were misrepresentations of fact or outright fraudulent.

One example was Epitome’s claim that its exits were equipped with panic hardware when in fact they were not. Another was the capacity of the second floor nightclub, which was listed at 400 on the application; investigators who have watched nightclub closed-circuit TV videotapes of that tragic night have estimated that about 1,000 people were in the club.

In addition, Illinois Casualty claims Epitome’s owners said their property had no uncorrected fire code violations when in fact it had and a judge had ordered the second floor of the building closed in July 2002.

The 1-year policies went into effect just a little over a month before the Feb. 17 tragedy and were produced by General Insurance Services Inc. of Crystal Lake, Ill.

A nightclub lawyer contacted by the Tribune did not comment.

Topics Lawsuits Carriers Illinois

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