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

In  a prior post in which I discussed the “basic value proposition” of D&O insurance, I noted that among the five indispensable elements required in order for coverage under a D&O insurance policy to exist is the requirement that the individual seeking coverage must have been acting in an Insured Capacity. The prerequisite that the Insured Person must have been acting in an Insured Capacity at the time of the alleged Wrongful Act arises from the fact that individuals act in a number of different capacities; it is only conduct undertaken in their capacity as an officer or director of the insured company for which the insurance policy provides coverage.

A July 3, 2021 decision by Southern District of New York Judge Gregory H. Woods, applying New York law, provides a good illustration of how individuals may be acting in multiple capacities, and underscores the fact that while the insurance under a D&O policy is only available when the insured is acting in his or her capacity as a director or officer of the insured company, coverage is not entirely precluded if the individual is acting in dual or multiple capacities. A copy of the Judge Woods’s opinion can be found here.
Continue Reading Individuals Acting in Multiple Capacities Entitled to Defense for Acts Undertaken in Insured Capacity

In a June 23, 2021 opinion (here), a Delaware Superior Court Judge held that a subsequent opt-out action is interrelated with the prior securities class action lawsuit; that the opt-out action claim is deemed made at the time of class action suit’s filing; and therefore that the D&O insurers whose policies were in force at the time the opt-out action was filed do not have coverage for the opt-out action. The court’s conclusion that an opt-out action is interrelated with the underlying class action lawsuit arguably is unremarkable, but, as discussed below, there are features of this dispute and of the court’s ruling that make the court’s decision noteworthy.
Continue Reading Opt-Out Action Held Interrelated with Underlying Securities Class Action Suit

Commercial insurance policies often are contractually complex. Many insurance policies include multiple endorsements modifying provisions of the base insurance policy form. Interpreting the way that the various parts of the policy work together is an important part of determining insurance coverage. When it is unclear how the parts relate uncertainty results. In a recent decision, the Eighth Circuit found that where multiple policy endorsements modified the same policy exclusion, the net effect of the endorsements was ambiguity, resulting in the conclusion that the exclusion did not apply at all. The appellate court’s decision is a cautionary tale for anyone involved in the insurance placement process.
Continue Reading Multiple Endorsements Modifying Same Exclusion Render Policy Ambiguous, Negating Exclusion’s Applicability

In the following guest post, Angus Duncan of Willis Towers Watson summarizes the result of the 2021 Willis Towers Watson D&O Liability Survey. I would like to thank Angus 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 blog’s readers. Please contact me directly if you would like to submit a guest post. Here is Angus’s article.
Continue Reading Guest Post: 2021 Willis Towers Watson D&O Liability Survey

As everyone involved in D&O insurance claims knows, there are a number of frequently recurring coverage issues. But while many coverage issues often recur, the applicable legal principles continue to develop and change. There are resources (such as, for example, this blog) where important developments can be tracked, but sometimes what is called for is a single resource that collects the relevant developments in a single place. Fortunately for D&O insurance practitioners, there is resource that does just that. It is the “Directors & Officers Liability Insurance Deskbook” (about which refer here), an American Bar Association publication written by attorneys from the Clyde & Co. law firm and edited by Martin J. O’Leary of Clyde & Co. The book’s recently published Fifth Edition is a timely update. Every D&O liability insurance practitioner and indeed anyone looking for a quick and ready resource on D&O liability insurance coverage issues will welcome this updated edition.
Continue Reading Book Review: Directors & Officers Liability Insurance Deskbook (Fifth Edition)

One of the perennial D&O insurance issues is the question of coverage for costs incurred by the corporate organization in connection with responding to an SEC investigation – what is often referred to as entity investigative cost coverage. These coverage questions are so fraught because of the sheer magnitude of the expense that entities often incur when they find themselves subject to an SEC investigation. In the latest example of this recurring insurance coverage issue, a federal district court has held that the costs the auto rental firm Hertz Global Holdings incurred in connection with an SEC investigation are not covered under its applicable D&O insurance program. The court’s decision illustrates many of the recurring aspects of this frequent insurance coverage issue. Southern District of New York Judge Alison J. Nathan’s March 30, 2021 opinion in the case can be found here.
Continue Reading Formal SEC Investigation not a “Securities Claim” Under D&O Insurance Policy

In a development that undoubtedly will be discussed among D&O insurance professionals for months to come, the Delaware Supreme Court issued an opinion last week in the long-running Dole Foods insurance coverage battle. Many D&O insurance industry observers will not be surprised to learn that the Delaware Court’s opinion is favorable to policyholders. As discussed below, the opinion (and the many rulings in the court below in this dispute) may encourage insurers to consider possible policy wording revisions. A copy of the Delaware Supreme Court’s March 3, 2021 opinion can be found here.
Continue Reading Del. Sup. Ct. Rules for Insureds in Long-Running Dole Foods D&O Insurance Coverage Dispute

As I noted in a recent post (here), a recurring public company D&O insurance coverage issue is whether a claim in which a company is involved qualifies as a “Securities Claim.” This question matters because D&O insurance provides coverage for the corporate entity (as opposed to the insured directors and officers) only for “Securities Claims” as that term is defined in the policy. In a recent decision, a Delaware Superior Court judge concluded that a bankruptcy trustee’s fraudulent transfer claim against Verizon Communications and related entities came within the applicable D&O insurance policy definition of “Securities Claim.” The coverage dispute illustrates the intricate issues that can arise in determining whether a claim qualifies as a “Securities Claim.” A copy of the Court’s February 23, 2021 Opinion can be found here.
Continue Reading D&O Insurance: Bankruptcy Trustee’s Fraudulent Transfer Claim is a “Securities Claim”