This page was created as a source of information to consumers who are inquiring about a class action lawsuit recently filed against Brown & Brown of California, United Restaurant Insurance Services (URIS), California Restaurant Specialty Cooperative (CRIS), Surplus Lines, Heritage International, and Ian Stuart with regard to bar and restaurant liability insurance policies.
This lawsuit was filed on November 5, 2003, by Foley & Bezek, LLP, in the Santa Barbara Superior Court. It seeks to proceed as a class action on behalf of all bar and restaurant owners who purchased allegedly fraudulent polices of liability insurance purportedly issued by Lloyd's of London. A scanned copy (in Adobe Acrobat format) of the class action complaint filed on November 5, 2003 with the Santa Barbara Superior Court can be viewed by clicking on the link on the side menu entitled "View the Complaint".
The California Department of Insurance, the United States Attorneys Office for the Southern District of New York, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are currently investigating this alleged fraud. In addition, Lloyd's is currently in the process of notifying bar and restaurant owners that policies of liability insurance that were purportedly issued by Lloyd's through United Restaurant Insurance Services, Inc., Heritage International, and/or Ian Stuart apparently were not authorized, and do not provide any insurance coverage. As a result, bar owners are scrambling to obtain replacement insurance policies.
The class action lawsuit seeks to obtain the recovery of all premiums paid by bar and restaurant owners for the allegedly fraudulent insurance policies. The named plaintiffs in the class action lawsuits are James Fletcher, the owner of "Jimboz" Lounge in Santa Barbara, and Mike Bustanchury, the owner of "Tiburon Tavern" in Santa Barbara.
William Meader, Senior Investigator for the California Department of Insurance, had advised Foley & Bezek, LLP that based on the current investigation, it appears that between 300 and 400 insurance policies were issued to bar and restaurant owners throughout the State of California. Mr. Meader is also attempting to determine whether bar owners in other states are involved, and for how many years the fraudulent policies have been issued. Annual premiums for the allegedly fraudulent policies ranged between $2,335.00 and $30,000.00, depending on the size of the bars and restaurants involved.