One way or the other, I have been doing D&O for more than 35 years. One of the reasons I love what I do is that there is always something new and so I am always learning. This week’s new thing is a recent ruling by a federal district court ruling that a debtor’s insurer could not rely on a bankruptcy exclusion in the debtor’s D&O policy to deny coverage for an underlying claim because the exclusion violates the bankruptcy code’s probation against ipso facto provisions in executory contracts. In all my years, I don’t believe I have ever run across the bankruptcy code’s ipso facto provision prohibition, so the district court’s ruling in this case was a learning opportunity for me – and I suspect it will be for most readers as well.
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In July, the Seventh Circuit issued a unanimous opinion in the case of Emmis Communications Corp. v. Illinois National Insurance Company, in which the court ruled that the policyholder’s provision of notice to the previous carrier precluded coverage for an underlying claim under the later of two D&O insurance policies. The court’s ruling was widely criticized (including also on this site). The policyholder, Emmis, filed a motion for panel rehearing or rehearing en banc. And then on August 21, 2019, the appeals court panel did something very unusual — the court withdrew its July opinion, in which it had reversed the district court, and substituted an order affirming the district court’s ruling. As discussed below, this odd and inexplicable sequence of events raises some serious questions. The Seventh Circuit panel’s August 21, 2019 order can be found here.   
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In an interesting development in a long-running legal battle in which for-profit education company Apollo Education Group is seeking D&O insurance coverage for its $13.125 million settlement of an options backdating-related securities class action lawsuit, the Ninth Circuit has certified to the Arizona Supreme Court the question of the standard of law to be applied to the insurance policy’s consent to settlement provisions. The Arizona Court’s response to the certified question potentially could have important implications for the meaning and application of similar provisions in other D&O insurance policies. The Ninth Circuit’s August 15, 2019 opinion certifying the question to the Arizona court can be found here.
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Federal Reserve Building, Washington, D.C.

The Federal Reserve wants bank directors and senior executives  to know that while their D&O insurance policies are “an important risk mitigation tool,” their policies could contain exclusions that could “potentially limit coverage” and leave them without insurance in the event of a claim. In a July 23, 2019 letter (here), the Fed informed banks and other financial institutions of the risks associated with exclusionary provisions in D&O insurance policies and urged board members and senior executives to “understand fully the protections and limitations” that the D&O insurance policies provide. As discussed below, the Fed’s guidance is good advice for directors and senior executives of any organization, not just for banks. An August 3, 2019 post on the Willis Towers Watson blog about the Fed letter can be found here.
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As the number of shareholder appraisal lawsuits increased a few years ago, a recurring question has been whether or not a company’s D&O insurance covers the company’s costs incurred in defending an appraisal action. In a recent decision, a Delaware Superior Court judge rejected a number of the recurring coverage defenses on which insurers rely in disputing coverage for appraisal action costs and expenses. The Court’s opinion in the Solera Holdings case contains several very interesting rulings, some of which could be relevant even outside of the appraisal action context. A copy of the Delaware Superior Court’s July 31, 2019 opinion can be found here.
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In a recent decision, the Delaware Superior Court, applying Delaware law, held that two of Pfizer’s excess D&O insurers are on the hook for their portion of costs the company incurred in defending and settling a securities class action lawsuit, despite the excess insurers’ arguments that the claim was interrelated with an earlier securities suit and that coverage was therefore precluded under their policies’ Specific Litigation Exclusion. The critical determinant in the court’s ruling may have been its decision that Delaware law governed the coverage dispute, but there are still a number of interesting elements about issue of claims relatedness. The Delaware Superior Court’s July 23, 2019 decision can be found here.
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Let’s say your client has been served with a new D&O lawsuit. Based on what you know about the events that led up to the lawsuit, you are genuinely unsure whether the claim was first made earlier, or not until the lawsuit was filed. Just to complicate things further, during the last renewal cycle, the client moved its D&O coverage from one carrier to another carrier, and some of the events in the lawsuit lead-up occurred during the prior policy period. Just notice both carriers, right? That would seem to be the prudent thing to do, especially given the uncertainty about the claims made date, right?

Maybe not.
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Paul Ferrillo

In the following guest post, Paul Ferrillo takes a look at the current state of the D&O insurance market and provides his views on the importance of a healthy D&O market for corporate America. Paul is a shareholder in the Greenberg Traurig law firm’s Cybersecurity, Privacy, and Crisis Management Practice. I would like to thank Paul for his willingness to allow me to publish his article 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 Paul’s article.
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John F. McCarrick

In a recent post, I expressed a variety of opinions about claims notice issues arising in connection with D&O insurance renewals. Apparently, my commentary and proposals triggered enough of a reaction from my good friend John McCarrick that he felt compelled to write a response. John is a partner at the White & Williams law firm and chair of the firm’s Financial Lines Group. John is also one of the most widely respected professionals in the D&O insurance industry, and so I am pleased he took the time to write a response to my article and pleased to publish his response here. Here is John’s response.
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In a noteworthy decision that raises a number of interesting issues, District of Minnesota Judge Ann D. Montgomery, applying Minnesota law, held that a company’s excess D&O insurance policy’s prior acts exclusion precludes coverage for the entirety of claims asserted against the company, even with respect to wrongful acts alleged to have taken place after the prior acts date. This case involves a number of twists and turns, while raising some important questions. Judge Montgomery’s June 4, 2019 opinion in the case can be found here. The Wiley Rein law firm’s June 20, 2019 post about the ruling on its Executive Summary Blog can be found here.
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