In a November 30, 2011 order (here), Central District of California Judge R. Gary Klausner has denied the motion of the FDIC as receiver of the failed IndyMac Bank to intervene in a declaratory judgment action involving IndyMac’s D&O insurance. The FDIC sought to intervene because of its interest in recovering under the policies in connection with two lawsuits it filed as IndyMac’s receiver against former IndyMac directors and officers. Judge Klausner’s denial of the FDIC’s intervention motion may be relevant in other failed bank coverage disputes where the FDIC is interested in preserving D&O insurance policy proceeds for its claims in competition with claims of claimants to the policy proceeds.
IndyMac failed on July 11, 2008. The bank’s closure represented the second largest bank failure during the current banking crisis, behind only the massive WaMu failure. (IndyMac has assets of about $32 billion at the time of its closure).
As I detailed in a prior post (here), the bank’s collapse triggered a wave of litigation. The lawsuits include a securities class action lawsuit against certain former directors and officers of the bank; lawsuits brought by the FDIC and by the SEC against the bank’s former President; and a separate FDIC lawsuit against four former officers of Indy Mac’s homebuilders division. There are a total of twelve separate lawsuits pending. The underlying actions allege various improprieties, mostly centering around mortgage backed securities.
Prior to its collapse, IndyMac carried D&O insurance representing a total of $160 million of insurance coverage spread across two policy years. The insurance program in place for each of the two policy years consists of eight layers of insurance. Each layer has a $10 million limit of liability. The eight layers consist of a primary policy providing traditional ABC coverage, with three layers of excess insurance providing follow form ABC coverage, followed by four layers of Excess Side A insurance. The lineup of insurer involved changed slightly in second year.
As I also noted in a prior post (here), in early 2011, a unit of IndyMac had filed a declaratory judgment action seeking to establish coverage under the various policies in connection with claims that had been filed against the unit. In an August 2011 order, discussed in the prior blog post, Central District of California Judge R. Gary Klausner granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss the action as premature.
Separately, in March 2011, the four Side A carriers in the second of the two insurance towers filed their own separate declaratory judgment proceedings, against certain former IndyMac directors and officers, seeking to establish that terms in their policies preclude coverage for the various lawsuits. The directors and officers counterclaimed and also added as counter-defendants the four traditional ABC carriers in the second tower.
In October 2011, the FDIC, which in its capacity as IndyMac’s receiver has initiated two lawsuits against certain former IndyMac directors and officers of IndyMac, moved to intervene in the separate coverage action that the Side A carriers had initiated. The FDIC had moved to intervene on alternative grounds under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure — as of right; and alternatively under permissive intervention. The FDIC argued that because it is a plaintiff in the two underlying actions, it has an interest in seeing that the coverage dispute is resolved so that it can recover any eventual judgment in those actions out of the insurance proceeds.
The November 30 Ruling
In his November 30 opinion, Judge Klausner denied the FDIC’s motion to intervene. Judge Klausner held that the FDIC had not established its entitlement to intervene as of right because it “has not obtained a judgment against the Insured Defendants and may never do so,” and so presently it has at most “the hope of an eventual judgment.” Accordingly, he held, the FDIC has “no legally protected interest” in the coverage dispute.” He added that even if it had a legally protected interest, that interest is not related to the subject matter of the coverage lawsuit. Because the FDIC’s lawsuit against the former directors and officers and the separate insurance coverage action “involve different legal issues,” they are “not related for purposes of mandatory intervention.”
Judge Klausner held that FDIC’s alternative motion for permissive intervention also fails because the FDIC’s action against the former directors and officers, on the one hand, and the separate insurance coverage dispute, on the other hand, do “not present common questions of law or fact.” He added that because the FDIC has not yet obtained a judgment against the Insured Defendants it “does not have an interest that it needs to protect” and its claims “are not yet ripe for adjudication” and therefore it does “not have standing as a permissive intervenor.”
The FDIC’s interest in preserving its ability to collect the proceeds of a failed bank’s D&O insurance is not limited to this case. In connection with a host of other failed banks, the FDIC’s interest in the D&O insurance policy proceeds is in competition with the interests of a variety of other claimants, including in particular shareholders of the holding companies of the failed banks. The various parties will be in a race to try to see who gets there first, and if they can get there before the insurance is substantially or entirely depleted by defense expenses. The FDIC’s interest in taking part in coverage litigation makes perfect sense.
But so too does Judge Klausner’s ruling here. It appears that until the FDIC has reduced its claims to a judgment it may have difficulty presenting its purported claims to the D&O insurance policy proceeds in a coverage action. The question of whether or not there is coverage under a D&O policy for a given claim scenario is different from the question whether or not the FDIC has any entitlement to the policy proceeds.
Special thanks to my friends at Bates Carey Nicolaides LLP for providing me with a copy of Judge Klausner’s opinion. Bates Carey represents one of the insurers in the pending coverage action.
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