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SBE Files Insurance Bad Faith Lawsuit on Behalf of Historic Inland Empire Restaurant

Former Owners of Joe Greensleeves File Lawsuit Against Mercury Casualty Company for Insurance Bad Faith

Mercury failed to abide by the terms of its policy and forced the iconic Redlands restaurant to shut its doors

March 27, 2017 – Redlands, CA – A lawsuit was filed today against Mercury Insurance on behalf of the former owners of Joe Greensleeves alleging that Mercury Casualty Company caused the iconic Redlands restaurant to close by failing to abide by the terms of its policy and act in good faith.

Joe Greensleeves was Redlands’ oldest fine-dining restaurant, originally opening its doors in 1982. The restaurant suffered an electrical fire in April of 2016 that prompted a closure that was supposed to be temporary. The restaurant (purchased in 2011 by BJB Restaurant Inc.) had an insurance policy with Mercury which was supposed to cover the damage to the interior of the building, damage to its contents and other business interruption losses. Instead of fulfilling its contractual and good faith obligations to get BJB repaired and running again, Mercury’s reckless handling of the claim and absolute disregard for its insured destroyed this family-owned business.

“We invested our life’s blood into this restaurant,” said James Briggs, one of two former owners. “Mercury ignored our claims, treated us poorly and forced us to have to shut our doors. We relied on Mercury to abide by the terms of their own policy, but instead they chose to be the enemy of one of Redlands’ most cherished establishments.”

The lawsuit claims that Mercury’s bad faith behavior included the following:

  • Preventing electricians from repairing the restaurant’s wiring for months, making it impossible to operate the business
  • Trying to cover up the delay by keeping Joe Greensleeves’ owners tied up with unnecessary requests for receipts of which Mercury already had possession
  • Giving vague, dismissive responses to any of the owner’s questions and even deferring questions to a third-party accountant who did not have the sought information
  • Severely underpaying the claim, using years-old monthly profit statements to make the restaurant’s financial losses appear much lower

“Because of Mercury’s unreasonable delay, BJB watched every single one of its employees quit, and helplessly watched its landlord sue for unlawful detainer, causing BJB to surrender its lease,” said Samuel Bruchey, partner at Shernoff Bidart Echeverria LLP. “Mercury destroyed this business, piece by piece.”

The lawsuit is BJB Restaurant Inc. v Mercury Casualty Company, San Bernardino Superior Court Case No. CIVDS1705345.