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Organizers of cancelled Tampa intelligence conference sue insurer

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Published:   |   Updated: March 26, 2014 at 08:33 PM

The organizers of a major national intelligence conference that would have brought more than 4,000 visitors to Tampa last year are suing Lloyds of London, claiming it reneged on a cancellation insurance policy.

The 2013 GEOINT Symposium was scheduled to be held in Tampa last October, filling hotel rooms and restaurants and bringing together intelligence agency and military leaders and defense industry behemoths. It was postponed until next month because of the government shutdown.

In a lawsuit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Tampa, the United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation is claiming that the British insurance giant failed to live up to a policy that would “protect against loss that might result from a cancellation, curtailment, postponement, removal to alternative premises or abandonment” of the symposium.

The symposium had to be cancelled, organizers say, because military and government personnel who were key speakers and attendees were unable to travel as a result of restrictions imposed by the shutdown.

“As a result, USGIF sustained and continued to sustain serious and substantial injury and damage, and incurred significant expenses and obligations” which included lost preparation work, refunds to exhibitors and sponsors and arrangements with hotels and other vendors. In addition, rescheduling the symposium incurred additional expenses, according to the suit.

The suit contends that the policy provides limits of more than $4.1 million with no deductible for any loss, but “contains no limits with respect to amounts USGIF is forced to incur” as a result of the cancellation. However, when organizers attempted to collect on the policy, Lloyds of London “without any reasonable justification and in bad faith refused to honor its obligation under the policy and refused to indemnify USGIF for losses sustained.”

The suit does not specify the extent of the losses, stating only that it is in excess of $75,000.

Officials from Lloyds of London and its New York City public relations firm could not immediately be reached for comment.

The cancellation was costly for Tampa and area businesses as well.

It was expected produce an economic impact of $5 million for Tampa resulting from more than 7,000 contracted hotel room nights, according to Adam DePiro, director of convention sales for Visit Tampa Bay. But the real economic impact goes beyond that, said DePiro in an interview last year, because there were likely many more hotel rooms that would have been booked in addition to those contracted at the four hotels near the Tampa Convention Center.

The symposium has been rescheduled for the Tampa Convention Center April 14-17, with the same group of speakers, including Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, National Geospatial Intelligence Agency Director Letitia Long, Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, Acting Director of the U.S. Geological Survey Suzette Kimball, U.S. Special Operations Command head Adm. William McRaven and U.S. Central Command head Army Gen. Lloyd Austin III.

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