Thinking About the Duty to Cooperate

eleventh circuitMost liability insurance policies have provisions stating that the insured has a duty to cooperate with the insurer in the investigation and defense of a claim. In most claims situation, this requirement is not an issue. From time to time, however, questions arise whether or not the insured has fulfilled its duty to cooperate. Questions also arise whether or not the insurer’s conduct (or lack thereof) excuses the insured from the duty to cooperate. Two recent decisions from the Eleventh Circuit, one applying Florida law and one applying Georgia law, involved cases in which the insurer contended that it was relieved of its obligations under the relevant policy because the insured had breached its duty to cooperate. In both cases, the appellate court held that the insureds had breached their duties. The cases provide something of a roadmap for insureds to follow in avoiding challenges based on alleged breaches of the duty to cooperate. Continue Reading

PLUS Chapter Event in Los Angeles

2016-10-19 16.04.45a

Los Angeles County Public Library

On October 20, 2016, I was privileged to be able to moderate the educational session at a PLUS Southern California Chapter workshop event in Los Angeles. The title of the event was “Trump vs. Clinton: The Impact of the 2016 Election on EPLI & Cyber Liability.” The session was both informative and entertaining and I very much enjoyed being a part of it. Continue Reading

Guest Post: U.S. Parent Company Enters U.K.-Style Deferred Prosecution Agreement for Bribery

francis kean

Francis Kean

Deferred prosecution agreements have long been a part of the U.S. criminal enforcement environment, but they are relatively new in the United Kingdom. In addition, as the U.K. has begun to adopt the use of deferred prosecution agreements, it has adopted the agreements to its own system and legal requirements. In the following guest post, Francis Kean of Willis Towers Watson takes a look at a recent U.K. deferred prosecution agreement, relating to bribery allegations involving a U.K.-based subsidiary of a U.S. company. Francis notes a number of interesting features of the agreement and discusses its implications. Francis’s article previously appeared on the Willis Towers Watson Wire blog (here). I would like to thank Francis for his willingness to publish his article as a guest post on this site. I welcome guest post submissions from responsible authors on topics of interest to this blog’s readers. Please contact me directly if you would like to submit a guest post. Here is Francis’s article. Continue Reading

Guest Post: “New India”

Nilam Sharma

Nilam Sharma

No doubt like a number of you, I read Kevin’s blog on his recent travels to India with interest. As a first generation British Indian I was as unfamiliar with India as Kevin was, until the age of 13 when I first visited India with my parents, and I too was overwhelmed with the poverty, the amount of people, the traffic, the colours, the spices, the lack of order (which as a Brit totally unnerved me!), yet amazed how with such craziness India still functioned and things got done.    Continue Reading

D&O Insurance: Is a Software Audit Demand a “Claim”?

ohioA standard D&O insurance policy provision specifies that the term “Claim” means, in part, a “written demand for monetary damages or non-monetary relief.” A recurring question that arises under this language is: what exactly is “non-monetary relief”?  In a recent case, an Ohio intermediate appellate court considered the question whether a demand for a software audit from a software industry group alleging unauthorized software copying constituted a written demand for non-monetary relief; the court concluded that it did and that it therefore that the demand represented a claim under the applicable D&O policy. The court also considered the applicability of the policy intellectual property (IP) infringement exclusion. A copy of the Ohio Court of Appeals, Third Appellate District’s October 11, 2016 opinion can be found hereContinue Reading

The Yates Memo and Civil Liability for Corporate Directors and Officers

dojIt has now been over a year since the U.S. Department of Justice released the so-called Yates Memo, in which the agency stated its policy focused on individual accountability for corporate wrongdoing. As attorneys from the McDermott, Will & Emery firm noted in an October 11, 2016 post on the Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation blog (here), since the Yates Memo went into effect, observers have been watching for “telltale signs of whether the Yates Memo is really changing the way federal enforcement does business.” According to the blog post, two recent False Claims Act settlements that required corporate executives to make substantial monetary contributions to resolve civil enforcement actions filed against them may suggest that the anticipated Yates Memo-related change has arrived. Continue Reading

D&O Insurance: Thinking About Two Relatively Uncommon Exclusions

filesA couple of items crossed my desk last week that made me think about two exclusions that are sometimes found in D&O insurance policies. In each case, the exclusions, while relatively uncommon, could substantially restrict the insurance coverage available at least in certain circumstances. Precisely because these exclusions are relatively uncommon, it is important to understand the circumstances to which they apply and how they can affect coverage when they are triggered. Continue Reading

Despite Record SEC Enforcement Activity, Senator Warren Calls for President to Fire Agency Chair


Senator Elizabeth Warren


SEC Chair Mary Jo White

Perhaps SEC officials hoped they were bolstering their agency’s image as a tough regulator when they reported on October 11, 2016 that the SEC had filed a record number of enforcement actions in fiscal year 2016. That was certainly the way the officials quoted in the agency’s press release played it. But if that was their plan, Senator Elizabeth Warren, at least, was having none of it. Just days after the agency released its enforcement statistics, Senator Warren sent a 12-page letter to President Barack Obama calling for the President to fire Mary Jo White as SEC Chair, because, the Senator contends, under White’s watch the agency has undermined the administration’s priorities, ignored the SEC’s core mission of investor protection, and failed to promulgate or implement disclosure requirements Warren supports. Continue Reading

Dutch Court Dismisses Collective Investor Action Against BP on Jurisdictional Grounds

netherlandsAs the rise of collective investor actions has gone global, one of the questions that has arisen is whether a country other than the U.S. would become a preferred forum in which investors might pursue their claims, even investors from outside the forum country. Australia is among the countries that have been suggested. Another country that has comes up in this conversation is The Netherlands, which recently was the location of a massive investor settlement. Investors angered by several high profile scandals in other countries have also filed claims in The Netherlands. All of these developments have added to the suggestion that The Netherlands may be becoming a preferred forum for investor actions from around the world.


However, a recent court decision in an investor action filed in the Netherlands against BP and arising out of the Deepwater Horizon platform disaster may suggest that Netherlands collective action procedures may not be available for  investors seeking to recover purely financial losses where the alleged wrongdoing took place outside the Netherlands and there are no other factors connecting the case to Netherlands. Continue Reading

Hedge Fund Investor Launches Fraud Lawsuit Against Theranos

TheranosEarlier this year, the SEC announced a “Silicon Valley Initiative,” reflecting the agency’s concerns about private and pre-IPO companies that were scoring sky-high valuations in private offerings. The agency said that it is particularly focused on so-called “unicorns” – that is, private companies with valuations greater than $1 billion. Although the agency did not name any of the specific companies in which it was interested, it soon became clear that one of the companies the agency was investigating was Theranos, the start-up company whose blood-testing technology and practices have recently gained media and regulatory scrutiny. The SEC’s scrutiny of a private company’s fund-raising practices was itself noteworthy; now, in yet another notable development, the privately-held company has drawn an investor lawsuit alleging securities fraud. Continue Reading