In a November 30, 2021 opinion (here), a Delaware Superior Court judge, applying Delaware law, held that the later investigations of the insured policyholder by two regulatory agencies were unrelated to an earlier investigation of the company by one of the agencies. In making this “relatedness” determination, the court declined to apply the “fundamentally identical” standard that some Delaware courts have applied to relatedness issues, but instead applied a “meaningful linkage” test. Because relatedness disputes are so frequent, and because Delaware’s court increasingly are becoming the forum in which insurance disputes are addressed, this court’s adoption of the revised relatedness standard court have important implications.
Continue Reading D&O Insurance: Delaware Court Applied “Meaningful Linkage” Interrelated Claims Test

Sarah Abrams

In the following guest post, Sarah Abrams, Head of PL Claims at Bowhead Specialty Underwriters, takes a look at the D&O insurance underwriting and claims implications of private equity investment in managed care organizations. I would like to thank Sarah for allowing me to publish her 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 Sarah’s article.
Continue Reading Guest Post: PE Investment in Healthcare and Impact to Managed Care Organization D&O

Several years ago, when it became clear that plaintiffs’ lawyers were going to file merger objection lawsuits in connection with essentially every M&A transaction, the D&O insurers responded by adding a separate, larger retention for M&A-related claims. The larger M&A-related claim retention quickly became pretty much a standard feature of public company D&O insurance policies. However, because the M&A claim retention is in many instances substantially larger than the retention that would otherwise apply, the question of whether the larger retention applies to a particular claim can be a significant one. In a recent case, the Delaware Superior Court addressed a D&O insurance coverage dispute in which, among other things, the insurers and the policyholder disagreed on whether the larger M&A-related claim retention applied to the underlying litigation. In an interesting November 23, 2021 opinion (here), Delaware Superior Court Judge Eric Davis held that the larger M&A retention did not apply.
Continue Reading Court Holds Larger M&A-Related Retention Does Not Apply to Securities Claim

In the latest development in the long-running saga involving the efforts by J.P. Morgan to obtain D&O insurance coverage for the $140 million “disgorgement” that its predecessor-in-interest, Bear Stearns, paid to settle SEC market-timing allegations, the New York Court of Appeals (the state’s highest court) has reversed the intermediate appellate court’s ruling that the payment represented a “penalty” for which coverage is precluded. The Court of Appeals rejected the intermediate appellate court’s conclusion, made in reliance on the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2017 Kokesh decision, that a “disgorgement” payment to the SEC is a “penalty.” The Court of Appeals held that Kokesh did not control, and that because the payment was compensatory in nature, it did not represent a “penalty” for which coverage is precluded under the policies. The Court’s November 24, 2021 opinion can be found here.
Continue Reading New York’s Highest Court Holds SEC “Disgorgement” Payment Not a “Penalty”

Nessim Mezrahi

In the following guest post, Nessim Mezrahi takes a detailed look at the factors driving D&O profitability and the securities class action loss mitigation steps insurers can take to improve profitability. Mezrahi is co-founder and CEO of SAR, a securities class action data analytics and software company. A version of this article previously was published on the PLUS Blog. I would like to thank Nessim for allowing me 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 site’s readers. Please contact me directly if you would like to submit a guest post. Here is Nessim’s article.
Continue Reading Guest Post: SCA Loss Mitigation is Critical for D&O Profitability

The number of False Claims Act cases, both those filed by the government and those filed by qui tam relators, is increasing. As a result, potential False Claims Act liability is increasingly important for companies and for their D&O insurers. At the same time, there have been recent court decisions, applying an expansive reading of D&O insurance policies, that have rejected D&O insurers’ attempts to deny coverage for False Claims Act claims against their policyholders. The recent decisions suggest that companies subject to False Claims Act claims potentially may be able to obtain coverage under their D&O insurance policies – and not only for defense expense, but for settlement amounts as well. An October 26, 2021 Insurance Journal article discussing the insurance implications of the growing number of False Claim Act cases can be found here.
Continue Reading Increased Numbers of False Claims Act Actions and the D&O Insurance Coverage Implications

As readers know, there has been a wave of business interruption coverage insurance disputes arising out the pandemic. But the business interruption claims are not the only insurance coverage disputes the coronavirus outbreak has caused. An interesting recent D&O insurance-related coverage dispute involves the denial by a D&O insurer of coverage for lawsuits a health industry technology trade association faced following the March 2020 coronavirus outbreak-related cancellation of the association’s annual trade show.

In a recent decision, a federal district court, applying Illinois law, rejected the insurer’s coverage denial, holding that the policy’s professional services exclusion and contract exclusion did not preclude coverage. The court also rejected the insurer’s contention that the damages sought in the underlying litigation represented uninsurable restitution. Northern District of Illinois Judge Robert W. Gettleman’s October 19, 2021 opinion in the case can be found here. A November 1, 2021 post on the Hunton Insurance Recovery Blog about the opinion can be found here.
Continue Reading Court Rejects D&O Insurer’s Coverage Denial for COVID-Related Tradeshow Cancellation Claims

A federal district court, applying Virginia law, has held that the “Bump-Up” exclusion in a D&O insurance policy does not unambiguously apply to preclude coverage for the settlements of underlying actions relating to the 2016 merger of Towers Watson and Willis. The court construed the exclusion narrowly and based on a reasonable interpretation most favorable to the insured, Towers Watson, determined that the settlements  were not excluded from the definition of Loss under the Bump-Up exclusion.  A copy of the court’s October 5, 2021 opinion can be found here.
Continue Reading Court Holds Bump-Up Exclusion Does Not Unambiguously Preclude Coverage

Geoffrey B. Fehling
Michael S. Levine

In the following guest post, Geoffrey B. Fehling and Michael S. Levine review and analyze a September 2, 2021 Fifth Circuit decision in which the appellate court reversed a lower court ruling and held that a D&O insurance policy must cover a settlement related to a social engineering loss. Geoffrey is a counsel in Hunton Andrews Kurth’s Boston office and Michael is a partner in the firm’s Washington, D.C. office. I would like to thank the authors for allowing me to publish their 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 the authors’ article.
Continue Reading Guest Post: 5th Circ.: D&O Insurer Must Cover Firm for Social Engineering Losses Despite Professional Services Exclusion

Sarah M. Abrams, Esq.

As I noted in my recent survey of key directors’ and officers’ liability issues, one of the most significant recent developments in the financial markets has been the meteoric rise of special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs). In the following guest post, Sarah Abrams, Director, Management Liability Claims at Markel, takes a look at the SPAC phenomenon and considers the underwriting implications, particularly with respect to climate tech companies. I would like to thank Sarah for allowing me to publish her article as a guest post on this site. I welcome guest post submission 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 Sarah’s article.
Continue Reading Guest Post: Heating Up: SPAC Climate Tech Companies and Underwriting Considerations