Is Loss of a Business License or Permit a Loss of Use of Tangible Property?

September 2019

Representing business, commercial and real estate clients, as well as insurers and 
                                                                their policyholders                                                       
                                              FEATURE ARTICLE                            
Tim Thornton
Is Loss of a Business License or Permit a Loss of Use of Tangible Property?

Published: American Bar Association, Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section Newsletter

Thee Sombrero, Inc. v. Scottsdale Ins. Co. and Scottsdale Ins. Co. v. Int’l Protective Agency, Inc. provide different answers to the question of whether the loss of a business license or permit is a loss of use of tangible property. 

So you think you know the law
So You Think You Know the Law

True or False?

Most general liability policies define “property damage” as “physical injury to tangible property” or “loss of tangible property that is not physically injured.”

True or False?

Strictly economic losses, such as lost profits, loss of goodwill, loss of the anticipated benefit of a bargain, and loss of an investment, do not constitute damage or injury to tangible property covered by a comprehensive general liability policy.

True or False?

A business license and a conditional use permit for use of real property are intangible property.


Tim Thornton Included in The Best Lawyers in America© 2020

Partner Tim Thornton was selected by his peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© 2020. This marks Tim’s tenth year on the list for his work in insurance law.

Since it was first published in 1983, Best Lawyers® has become universally regarded as the definitive guide to legal excellence and the lists are compiled based on an exhaustive peer-review evaluation. Corporate Counsel magazine has called Best Lawyers “the most respected referral list of attorneys in practice.”

Tim Thornton Appointed to Four American Bar Association Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section Committee Positions

Partner Tim Thornton has been appointed to the following American Bar Association Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section (TIPS) positions for the 2019-20 bar year:
  • Vice-Chair to the Self-Insurers and Risk Managers General Committee 
  • Vice-Chair Appointment to the Excess Surplus Lines and Reinsurance General Committee
  • Chair-Elect; Technology Vice-Chair of the Insurance Coverage Litigation General Committee
  • Book Publishing Editorial Board Standing Committee 
The leadership appointments are in recognition of Tim’s competence and experience, commitment to TIPS, and reputation among the more than 17,000 TIPS members.

Recognized as a Martindale-Hubbell AV-rated attorney and a Northern California Super Lawyer, Partner Rick Williams offers more than 40 years of complex litigation experience, including class action matters. He has tried over 40 cases to verdict in both state and federal courts, and his practice covers a breadth of litigation matters, including product and premises liability, catastrophic and other personal injury, public entity defense, professional negligence, real estate, intellectual property, employment and unfair business practices.
Rick represents a range of clients, including insurance companies, self-insured organizations and third-party administrators, small to mid-size businesses, higher education organizations, major grocery stores, school districts, contractors, property management firms and funeral industry professionals (mortuaries, cemeteries and crematories).
Most recently, he represented a major commercial crane company in a catastrophic personal injury case venued in Santa Clara County that involved the partial amputation of the foot of a construction worker. The case arose out of the alleged negligent “tripping” of structural steel beams by the crane company, causing the worker’s foot to be crushed. The case was settled very favorably for Gray·Duffy‘s client several weeks before the trial. Rick also participated as General Counsel for a large Northern California cemetery, mortuary and crematory in successful negotiations with the City of Oakland for the design and construction of modern improvements to the cemetery and its facilities, which involved both architectural and engineering design and environmental compliance issues.
With extensive experience in alternative dispute resolution, Rick has been involved in more than 900 cases as an acting judge pro tem, special master, arbitrator or mediator. He has been trained by and mediated cases for the First, Second and Sixth District Courts of Appeal, has over 160 hours of training by the Strauss Institute for Dispute Resolution at Pepperdine University School of Law, and currently sits on mediation panels of the San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara County Superior Courts. He maintains an active private mediation practice in San Mateo County in
Gray·Duffy‘s Redwood City office.
Rick frequently writes on litigation and mediation issues, and recently co-authored The New Consumer Privacy Laws: What You Can Do Now To Comply published in AutoSuccess Magazine, and authored Efficient Mediation: The Fastest Route to the Goal Line published in Daily Journal.
In the community, Rick has led trial advocacy seminars for continuing education courses (CEB, ALI and ADC) as well as instructed classes in law and our court system to local high school students. He has also coached high school football and baseball.

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Please Note: This article is necessarily general in nature and is not a substitute for legal advice with respect to any particular case. Readers should consult with an attorney before taking any action affecting their interests.