Judge Rules In Favor Of Hotel Group In Insurance Dispute

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — A judge has ruled in favor of a group of hotels whose owners sued their insurance carriers over lost business during the coronavirus pandemic.

Businessman Mark Stebbins of Schleicher & Stebbins Hotels, LLC, one of the plaintiffs, said the pandemic caused tens of millions of dollars in lost revenue for about two dozen hotels in New Hampshire, Massachusetts and New Jersey.

The group had paid for $600 million in insurance. In April 2020, it filed an insurance claim to cover COVID-19-related losses. The insurance companies questioned “direct physical loss of or damage" to property and said the hotels did not provide enough details. The hotel owners said they hosted infected guests and staff. They sued the insurance companies; both sides asked for a court ruling.

“The court is satisfied that any requirement under the policies of ‘loss or damage' or ‘direct physical loss of or damage to property' is met where property is contaminated" by the COVID-19 virus, Merrimack County Superior Court Judge John Kissinger ruled Tuesday.

In other coronavirus-related news:

EMERGENCY ORDERS

Lawmakers adopted language during budget negotiations Wednesday that would allow the Legislature to end a state of emergency or any emergency order issued by the governor by a majority vote.

“The governor’s power to renew a state of emergency shall terminate upon a majority vote of both chambers,” according to the amendment agreed to by a committee of conference. The full Legislature will vote on the change next week.

The amendment also requires the governor to tell legislative leaders “as soon as practicable" about pending emergency orders.

The changes were discussed after legislators were not able to come to an agreement on a separate bill aimed at curtailing the governor’s authority during future pandemics or other emergencies.

Under current law, the governor can declare a state of emergency and renew it every 21 days as long as he or she finds it necessary to protect public safety and welfare, though the Legislature can vote to terminate it by adopting a concurrent resolution.

The amendment would change the renewal date to 30 days.

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DARTMOUTH-HOUSING CRUNCH

Dartmouth College, which is expecting a housing crunch this fall, is prepared spend up to $1 million in a one-time lottery to encourage up to 200 returning students to live off campus.

The Valley News reports if selected, students will receive a $5,000 payment in lieu of on-campus housing, Mike Wooten, associate dean of residential life, told students on the housing waitlist on Monday.

“As expected, demand has exceeded our capacity,” Wooten wrote in an email. “Although this has been the case in prior years, interest in living on campus has understandably surged following the easing of COVID-19 restrictions.”

He said the school is shifting some of its larger doubles to triples and converting lounges to student rooms where possible.

Students have until 5 p.m. Monday to decide whether to place their names in the lottery. Those who do will be notified June 23 about whether they have been selected for the payment and removed from the housing pool.

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THE NUMBERS

More than 99,000 people have tested positive for the virus in New Hampshire, including 25 cases announced Wednesday. No new deaths were announced, keeping the total at 1,364.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in New Hampshire decreased over the past two weeks, going from 48 new cases a day on May 31 to 33 new cases a day on Monday.

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Follow AP’s coverage of the pandemic at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic.