Insurance companies could pay up to $2 billion in claims stemming from riots sparked by the police killing of George Floyd — making them the most expensive in US history, a new report says.
The record-setting insured losses piled up as the demonstrations sometimes devolved into looting, arson and vandalism in 20 states across the country from May 26 to June 8, Axios reported Wednesday, citing figures from the Insurance Information Institute.
“It’s not just happening in one city or state — it’s all over the country,” Loretta L. Worters, a spokeswoman for the industry group, told Axios. “And this is still happening, so the losses could be significantly more.”
The cost of the damage will likely surpass that of the 1992 Los Angeles riots following the acquittal of the cops that beat Rodney King. That violence led to $775 million in insured losses at the time, or more than $1.4 billion in today’s dollars, according to the institute known as Triple-I.
The violence sparked by Minneapolis cops’ killing of Floyd was the first “multi-state catastrophe event” ever declared for civil disorder by claim-tracking company Property Claim Services, Triple-I has said.
Past civil catastrophes — events that caused at least $25 million in insured losses — unfolded in individual cities, such as the 1967 Detroit riots or the 1977 New York City blackout, according to the group, which noted that standard business-owner and homeowner insurance policies cover riot-related damages.
But the costs of this year’s riots will reportedly be dwarfed by natural disasters that have hammered parts of the country. Hurricane Isaias is expected to cost $3 billion to $5 billion in insurance losses, while the tab for the just-started wildfire season is already at $1.5 billion, Axios reported.
Triple-I did not immediately respond to The Post’s request for its estimate of riot-related damages Wednesday morning.
Judge tosses quadriplegic defense in hedge fund manager sexual harassment case
A federal judge has ruled that being a quadriplegic did not necessarily stop a hedge fund manager from sexually harassing his employees.
Influential biotech investor Sam Isaly — who left his $15 billion hedge fund after a scathing report claimed he “perpetuated a toxic culture of sexual harassment” — has had his defamation suit against the publisher tossed.
The 75-year-old Isaly had sued the company behind the scandalous report, Boston Globe Media Partners, for defamation in 2018, claiming that a teenage wrestling injury that left constrained to a wheelchair with assistants to help him perform menial tasks made it impossible for him to have done the horrible deeds described in the report.
But Manhattan federal judge Laura Taylor Swain rejected the notion that Isaly’s condition prevented him from carrying out the alleged abuses, including “routinely subjecting young female assistants to pornography in the workplace, lewd jokes, and pervasive sexist comments.”
Isaly left OrbiMed in December 2017, a week after the article emerged in health care news site STATNews, citing five people who worked for Isaly between 2000 and 2015, including one male investment professional.
Isaly’s former assistant, Delilah Burke, told STATNews that she once found a “flesh-colored vibrator” sitting inside Isaly’s briefcase after he asked her to retrieve some files. Isaly then erupted in laughter, the report said.
“The vibrator thing is when I quit,” Burk told the publication. “It was just, ‘You’re disgusting. I’m leaving. This is it.’’
Isaly also liked to “sprinkle his to-do lists … with dirty jokes and cryptic setups that would expose Burke to something lewd on the internet,” including asking her to look up “kit kat shuffle,’’ a euphemism for masturbation, the report said.
Isaly, who has denied the allegations, claimed the reporter failed to adequately investigate whether his disability made it impossible for him to have done the things described.
But Judge Swain determined that the only real allegation against that required Isaly to use his hands was the pair of breast implants he allegedly palpated “like stress balls during idle conversation.”
On that topic, Swain noted that Isaly “discussed feeling the texture of such implants” in am extensive interview with STATNews, and that the reporter on the story had observed Isaly using his hands to eat with a fork.
Isaly’s lawyers say he intends to appeal the ruling. “The article didn’t just fail to tell its readers that Mr. Isaly is a quadriplegic,” said the statement by lawyers with Carter Ledyard & Milburn LLP. “It falsely suggested that Mr. Isaly’s only disability involved being ‘paralyzed’ and without ‘the use of his legs’ when in fact his disability is substantially greater and prevents him from doing many of the acts of which he has been falsely accused.”
WeWork sells control of China business to private equity firm
WeWork has sold a majority stake in its China business to a private-equity firm in the troubled office-sharing startup’s latest effort to cut costs.
The deal announced Thursday will hand control of the unit to Trustbridge Partners, which led a new $200 million investment for WeWork China. Trustbridge operating partner Michael Jiang will lead the unit as acting CEO, WeWork said.
WeWork will keep a minority stake in the Chinese business and collect an annual fee for the WeWork brand, the company said.
“Having watched the execution of WeWork in Greater China over the past few years, and the growing need for flexibility accelerated by the pandemic, Trustbridge firmly believes the demand that WeWork provides will only continue to increase,” Feng Ge, managing partner at Shanghai-based Trustbridge, said in a statement.
WeWork has moved aggressively to slash costs and focus on its core office-rental business since a series of scandals involving ex-CEO Adam Neumann derailed its plans for an initial public offering last year.
The New York-based company said last month that it had almost cut its cash burn rate in half and snagged a new $1.1 billion financing commitment from Japanese investment giant SoftBank, its biggest financial backer.
WeWork has more than 800 office locations around the world, including 103 buildings across China, according to its website. Its Chinese tenants include tech giants Tencent and Alibaba, according to CNBC.
With Post wires
Novavax stock soars after start of coronavirus vaccine trial
Novavax’s stock price surged Friday after the biotech firm started a key late-stage trial of its experimental coronavirus vaccine.
Shares in the Maryland-based company soared nearly 11 percent to $113.56 following its Thursday announcement that it kicked off the Phase 3 study in the United Kingdom, which is battling a surge in COVID-19 infections.
The trial aimed at proving whether Novavax’s vaccine is safe and effective will enroll up to 10,000 people over the next four to six weeks, the company said. The participants will range in age from 18 to 84 years old, with half getting two shots of the vaccine, known as NVX-CoV2373, and the other half receiving a placebo.
“With a high level of [coronavirus] transmission observed and expected to continue in the UK, we are optimistic that this pivotal Phase 3 clinical trial will enroll quickly and provide a near-term view of NVX-CoV2373’s efficacy,” Dr. Gregory M. Glenn, Novavax’s president of research and development, said in a statement.
Data from the trial will support Novavax’s applications for regulatory approval in the UK, the European Union and other countries, Glenn added. Novavax said it plans to publish the study’s full protocol in the coming days.
Phase 3 trials are currently underway in the US and Europe for four other potential coronavirus vaccines, including candidates from AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.
Pfizer and Moderna have said they could know by October or November whether their vaccines work, but US officials don’t expect a shot to be widely available until next year.
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