FDIC Settles PwC Colonial Bank Negligence Action for $335 Million

In the latest twist in a long-running legal saga, on March 15, 2019, the FDIC announced that it had reached a $335 million settlement of the negligence action the agency had brought against PwC in connection with the accounting firm’s audit work for the defunct Colonial Bank. The curious thing about this settlement is that it represents only a little more half of the amount that a federal district court judge awarded the FDIC as damages in a July 2018 order in the case. The FDIC’s terse March 15, 2019 press release announcing the settlement can be found here. Continue Reading

Brexit-Related Disclosure in a Time of Uncertainty and Risk

Even as the Brexit process unwinds in an ever more confounding pile of confusion, companies must continue to plan, operate, and report to their shareholders. U.S. securities regulators have already issued calls for reporting companies to provide greater details about the plans of management in the face of the risks and uncertainties surrounding the Brexit process. On March 15, 2019, William Hinman, the Director of the SEC’s Division of Corporate Finance, speaking at a securities regulation conference in London, offered a more detailed overview of the kind of disclosures he believes companies should be providing their shareholders about Brexit. Among other things, Hinman provided a useful checklist of questions companies should be asking themselves and about which companies should also be advising their investors. The text of Hinman’s March 15, 2019 speech can be found here. Continue Reading

Securities Exclusion Bars Securities Transaction Claim Coverage

In a number of recent posts (most recently here), I have emphasized the importance of the wording of the securities exclusion in private company D&O insurance policies. A recent case out of Florida underscores the importance of the securities exclusion wording and illustrates how an unusual wording can lead to the preclusion of coverage for claims that might otherwise be covered. The decision also highlights the extent of the preclusionary effect from exclusions written on a very broad basis. Middle District of Florida Judge William Jung’s January 2, 2019 decision can be found here. A March 5, 2019 Law 360 article from the Jenner & Block firm about the decision can be found here. Continue Reading

A Closer Look at 2018 IPOs

For everyone involved in the public company D&O arena, IPOs are a continuing source of interest and concern. An important part of thinking about IPO companies and their D&O risk profile in understanding what is going on in the IPO marketplace. On March 6, 2019, the Proskauer Rose law issued its annual analysis of the 2018 U.S. IPO activity. The report provides an interesting overview of the important characteristics of 2018 IPOs. The IPO report can be found here. The law firm’s March 6, 2019 press release about the report can be found here. Continue Reading

E&O Coverage Barred for Options Trading Losses

In a ruling that turned on the interpretation of a technical financial term, a federal district court concluded that the Options Trading exclusion in an investment firm’s E&O policy precluded coverage for investor claims arising out of a financial transaction gone bad. In concluding that the exclusion precluded coverage, the court applied a standard financial industry definition to interpret the meaning of a specific policy term. The court’s opinion makes for interesting reading and provides food for thought about the policy placement process generally and about the process of policy interpretation. District of Utah Judge Dale Kimball’s March 1, 2019 opinion in the case can be found here. Continue Reading

Guest Post: The Missing Link of Cybersecurity — Time for a Cyber Risk Check-Up

Paul A. Ferrillo

Christophe Veltsos

The threats to data security are substantial. Every organization faces some level of cyber risk. So how do we get better at cybersecurity? That is the question that Paul Ferrillo and Christophe Veltsos ask in the following guest post. Paul is a shareholder in the Greenberg Traurig law firm’s Cybersecurity, Privacy, and Crisis Management Practice. Chris is is a professor in the Department of Computer Information Science at Minnesota State University, Mankato where he regularly teaches Information Security and Information Warfare classes. I would like to thank Paul and Chris for their willingness to allow me to publish their article as a guest post. 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. Paul and Chris’s article is set out below. Please be sure to also see the item at the end of the post about International Women’s Day. Continue Reading

Corporate and Securities Litigation at Stanford Law School

Stanford Law School

On Tuesday, March 5, 2019, it was my distinct honor and pleasure to be one of the invited speakers at Professor Joseph Grundfest’s corporate and securities litigation class at Stanford Law School in Palo Alto, California. Along with Priya Cherian Huskins of the Woodruff Sawyer firm, I was invited to address the students on the topic of the role of D&O insurance in securities and derivative litigation. Continue Reading

Michigan Appellate Court Rejects Insurer’s Late Notice Defenses

Regular readers know that I frequently write about insurance coverage disputes in which insurers contend that coverage is precluded due to the policyholders’ alleged late provision of notice. All too often, the policyholders end up without coverage as a result of the late notice allegations. In an interesting (albeit confusingly written) decision, a Michigan intermediate appellate court upheld a trial court’s rejection of a professional liability insurer’s late notice argument, finding that in fact the policyholder had provided timely notice of the claim ultimately in dispute, and therefore that the insurer was not entitled to recoup amounts the insurer incurred in defending and settling an arbitration that had been filed against the policyholder. The ruling highlights the fact that notice timeliness disputes often are factually complicated and that careful consideration of the applicable facts can sometimes confirm that a policyholder did in fact comply with the notice requirements. The Michigan Court of Appeals (Oakland Circuit)’s February 26, 2019 opinion can be found here. Continue Reading

Massive Settlement in Wells Fargo Bogus Account Scandal Derivative Suit

In one of the largest shareholder derivative lawsuit settlements ever, the parties to the consolidated Wells Fargo derivative suit arising out of the bank’s phony customer account scandal have agreed to settle the case for a variety of cash and non-cash benefits with a stated value to the company of $320 million, inclusive of a cash payment of $240 million. The $240 million cash portion of the settlement is to be paid by the bank’s D&O insurers, in what is, according to the plaintiffs’ counsel, “the largest insurer-funded cash component of any shareholder derivative settlement in history.” This settlement represents the latest in a series of derivative suit settlements with a significant cash component, a case resolution pattern in high-profile derivative suits that arguably represents the new normal in the world of D&O liability exposures. Continue Reading

Securities Litigation Reform: Addressing the Class Action Lottery

When Congress enacted the PSLRA in 1995, one of the goals was to try to deter frivolous litigation. As time has passed, it has also become clear that many of the PSLRA’s procedural reforms also created a structure of incentives for plaintiffs’ lawyers. For example, the PSLRA’s most adequate plaintiff requirement created an incentive for plaintiffs’ lawyers to seek to represent institutional investors. However, according to a recent academic study, with the passage of time, some of the incentives have had a distorted impact, as the incentives motivate plaintiffs’ lawyers to try to get hold of a mega-case “lottery ticket” that will produce a jackpot outcome – for the lawyers. These distortions in turn are creating many of the ills we are now seeing the securities class action litigation arena, justifying, according to the academic authors, another round of securities litigation reform. Continue Reading

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