Covid-19, Emergency Pandemic Orders, and Force Majeure
The Law Court recently weighed in on a trending legal issue – the extent to which Covid-19 restrictions trigger “force majeure” contract clauses. In 55 Oak Street LLC v. RDR Enterprises, Inc., the Law Court considered the applicability of a force majeure clause in the context of emergency pandemic orders.
In what is a very familiar story that has played out across the country, Defendant RDR Enterprises, which operated a restaurant in a space owned by Plaintiff 55 Oak Street, was forced to close for a period of time as a result of emergency pandemic orders. Subsequently, under revised pandemic orders, RDR was allowed to reopen at a limited capacity of approximately 35 guests; it did not do so because of its concerns about the economic feasibility of such operations. After RDR failed to pay its rent, Oak Street filed a forcible entry and detainer action to evict RDR.
The central question in the case, on appeal, was whether