Britney Spears filed suit in New York State Supreme Court on Friday against eight insurance companies that are denying her $9.8 million reimbursement claim over last year's canceled Onyx Hotel Tour. The insurers have refused the claim because they say Spears did not inform them of a 1999 knee injury on an insurance form. Spears injured her knee during a show in Moline, Illinois, on March 18, 2004, forcing the cancellation of two dates.
The tour continued shortly after that, but on June 8, she re-injured the knee during the video shoot for "Outrageous" and had arthroscopic surgery the following day to correct the damage. The remainder of the tour dates were subsequently scrapped (see "Britney's Fall: The Never-Before-Seen Footage").
"These are the same insurers who had provided her with policies on [several] tours and they had cleared her and were aware of the previous injury," said Jonathan Stoler, one of Spears' attorneys.
To date, the insurance companies have refused to pay Spears out on the policy — which cost her $1.3 million to take out — because they claim the singer did not fully inform them about the previous knee injury.
Stoler said the failure to disclose was an "innocent omission," not an attempt to mislead. "The alleged omission related to a question whereby Ms. Spears was asked if in the past five years she had had any surgery," Stoler said. "Ms. Spears, in all prior circumstances, had indicated she had, but at the time she was going through this application she did answer 'no.' It had not been a full five years, but four years and eleven months since the surgery [in 1999] and even if she had answered in the affirmative, our contention is that it makes no difference."
A spokesperson for one of the firms named in the suit, QBE International Insurance Limited of London, said the firm was unable to comment on the case. The other firms could not be reached for comment.
The $9.8 million Spears is seeking includes the cost of the policy, as well as related expenses the singer is responsible for as a result of the tour's cancellation, Stoler said, among them canceled contracts with performers and venues, production costs and lost profits. Stoler said a physician approved by the insurers examined Spears after the Moline injury and indicated that it was not related to her 1999 knee problem. "Same knee, opposite side," Stoler said, adding that even after the Moline stage injury, the insurers offered to extend Spears' coverage.
Stoler declined to say how long after the cancellation of the tour Spears first attempted to obtain reimbursement.