Cobb dentist sues insurer over lost coronavirus business

A Cobb County dentist has filed a class-action lawsuit against insurers that have denied his and other business owners’ claims for lost income because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The suit, filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Atlanta, is being pursued by Dr. Roy H. Johnson and his practice, Windy Hill Dentistry. It was brought against The Hartford Financial Services Group and eight of its insurance subsidiaries.

The dental practice has lost business by having to suspend operations during the pandemic through no fault of its own, the suit said. But Hartford is denying its lost business claims, saying COVID-19 is not a covered loss.

“I vigorously disagree with their position,” said former Georgia governor and Marietta attorney Roy Barnes, whose law firm represents the Cobb dental practice.

“The insurance company is saying that a business interruption has to be accompanied by a physical loss — like from a fire,” Barnes said Saturday. “But there has been a physical loss here.”

As for Johnson and his dental practice, Barnes added, “They denied him coverage even though he had to close his business. He had damage to his business because he had to shut it down.”

The suit notes that he Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recommended on March 18 that dentists delay elective and non-emergency procedures. A further mandate to postpone such work was issued by the American Dental Association.