UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Christopher French, a professor at Penn State Law in University Park, testified in a Washington State Senate committee hearing on February 2, 2021, regarding the impact of COVID-19 shutdowns on small businesses.
The hearing related to a proposed bill concerning business interruption insurance for businesses impacted by COVID-19 shutdowns. The bill would adopt as law one of the arguments French put forth in his article, “COVID-19 Business Interruption Insurance Losses: The Cases For And Against Coverage,” published last year in the Connecticut Insurance Law Journal.
French was invited to speak at the hearing and answer questions from senators before insurance industry lobbyists and impacted business owners provided testimonials to the senators regarding the proposed bill.
“It is gratifying when legal scholarship can have a direct impact in shaping the law or policymakers’ thinking,” French said.
In French’s article, he discussed use of the phrase “physical loss of or damage to property” in business interruption insurance policies. If the phrase is read broadly, or if physical loss is read to include loss of the use of property, then French argues that the COVID-19 claims would be covered under existing business interruption insurance policies subject to the other terms of the policies.
At Penn State Law, French teaches in the areas of torts, trial advocacy, evidence, contracts, and insurance law. He has written and published extensively at the intersection of insurance law, contracts, and tort law. He is the author of an insurance law casebook, Insurance Law and Practice: Cases, Materials, and Exercises, and a co-author of an insurance law reference book, Insurance Law in a Nutshell. He is also the general editor of New Appleman Pennsylvania Insurance Law Practice Guide, an insurance law treatise, as well as chapters of another insurance law treatise entitled Policyholder's Guide to the Law of Insurance Coverage. His scholarship has been published in law reviews at Duke Law School, Georgia State University, University of Southern California, University of Pennsylvania, University of Texas, Villanova University, and University of Virginia, among others.
Before French entered academia, he was a partner at K&L Gates LLP where, as a commercial litigator, he handled all aspects of litigation matters for Fortune 500 companies and other businesses in federal and state courts across the United States, trying cases in seven different states.