Coverage for the corporate entity under public company D&O insurance policies is limited to claims that constitute “Securities Claims” as that term is defined in the policy. A coverage dispute between Calamos Asset Management and its D&O insurer involved the question of whether an underlying breach of fiduciary duty claims alleged in connection with the company’s take-private tender offer meet the policy’s “Securities Claim” definition.

In a February 19, 2021 opinion (here), District of Delaware Judge Maryellen Noreika, applying Delaware law, ruled that the breach of fiduciary duty claims do not fall with the policy’s definition of “Securities Claim” and granted summary judgment for the insurer, largely in reliance on the Delaware Supreme Court’s 2019 decision in the Verizon case, notwithstanding the fact that the definition of the term “Securities Claim” in the Calamos dispute express referred to the “common law,” while the definition in the Verizon dispute did not.
Continue Reading Breach of Fiduciary Duty Claim Not a “Securities Claim” Under D&O Policy

One of the recurring D&O insurance issues is whether an insurer seeking to deny coverage for a claim based on the insured’s late provision of notice must show that the late notice prejudiced the insurer. In the following guest post, Peter Selvin, the chair of the Insurance Coverage and Recovery Department at Ervin Cohen & Jessup LLP, takes a look at a recent federal district court ruling that supports policyholder’s arguments that the notice-prejudice rule applies under certain circumstances. A version of this article previously was published in the LA Daily Journal. I would like to thank Peter for allowing me 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 Peter’s article.
Continue Reading Guest Post: New Decision on Late Notice

Most D&O insurance policies specify that the insurer’s advance written consent is required for claim settlement, such consent not to be unreasonably withheld. A frequent insurance coverage battleground issue is whether an insurer’s decision to withhold consent is or is not unreasonable. In the long-running insurance coverage dispute between for-profit education firm Apollo Education Group and its D&O insurer, Apollo contends that the insurer’s refusal to consent to Apollo’s $13.125 settlement of an options backdating-related securities suit was unreasonable. The coverage dispute eventually made its way to the Ninth Circuit, which certified a question of law to the Arizona Supreme Court on the question of the standard of law to be applied to the consent to settlement provision.

In an interesting February 17, 2021 split decision that could have important implications, the Arizona Court held that the objective reasonableness of the insurer’s decision to withhold consent is to be assessed from the perspective of the insurer, not that of the insured. A copy of the Arizona Supreme Court’s opinion can be found here.
Continue Reading Arizona Sup. Ct.: Reasonableness of Insurer’s Refusal to Consent to Settle Determined from Insurer’s Perspective

Commercial enterprises sometimes are organized in complex structures consisting of multiple, legally separate legal entities. The legal separation between the various entities can be significant in a variety of ways. One particular context within which these separate legal identities can be very important is in the D&O insurance context, as the insurance may be structured to apply to specified entities (and therefore not to others).

In the D&O insurance context, the availability of coverage for individual directors or officers may depend on the entity within the structure on whose behalf the individuals were acting – that is, the coverage question will depend on the “capacity” in which the individuals were acting. A recent decision by the New York (New York County) Supreme Court Commercial Division highlights the importance of these capacity issues and underscores that the capacity in which an individual was acting can be coverage determinative. The court’s February 2, 2021 opinion can be found here.
Continue Reading D&O Insurance Coverage Barred for Execs Not Acting in an Insured Capacity

It is not uncommon for coverage disputes to arise in connection with D&O insurance claims, but every now and then there is a coverage dispute so broad that it constitutes a veritable D&O insurance coverage curriculum. That was certainly the case in what a Delaware Superior Court judge called the “sprawling insurance coverage dispute” between a unit of Northrup Grumman and its predecessors-in-interest’s D&O insurers. The coverage dispute arose out of underlying claims relating to the 2015 merger of Alliant Techsystems, Inc and Orbital Sciences Corporation to form Orbital ATK, Inc. The court’s lengthy opinion on the parties’ cross-motions for summary judgment and for judgment on the pleadings covers a wide variety of recurring D&O insurance coverage issues and makes for interesting reading for anyone involved with D&O insurance. The Delaware Superior Court’s February 2, 2021 opinion in the Northrup Grumman case can be found here.
Continue Reading Delaware Court Addresses “Sprawling” Northrup Grumman D&O Insurance Coverage Dispute

In the following guest post, Francis Kean provides us with ten reasons to be cheerful notwithstanding the current D&O insurance market. Francis is a Partner, Financial Lines, at McGill and Partners. A version of this article previously was published Insurance Day. I would like to thank Francis 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 Francis’s article.
Continue Reading Guest Post: The State of the D&O Market: 10 Reasons to Be Cheerful

As I have noted in prior posts (most recently here), there has been a wave of Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC) offerings this year. And as I have also noted, with all of the SPAC offerings have come problems and concerns. As discussed in the following guest post from Carrie O’Neil, Doru Gavril, and Boris Feldman, the D&O insurance marketplace has struggled to respond to these developments, and a number of different approaches to SPAC transactions have emerged. Carrie is a Senior Vice President at CAC Specialty and serves as a product development leader and claims advocate within its Legal and Claims Practice. Doru is a partner at the Freshfields law firm. Boris is a partner and head of the U.S. Technology practice at Freshfields. A version of this article was published on A Fresh Take, Freshfields’ blog on M&A, litigation, and corporate governance. The article also appeared on the CAC Specialty blog, CACConnect, here. 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 site’s readers. Please contact me directly if you would like to submit a guest post. Here is the authors’ article.
Continue Reading Guest Post: Mind the (SPAC) Gap

In a closely watched insurance coverage dispute, the Delaware Supreme Court reversed a lower court rulings and held that an appraisal proceeding is not a “Securities Claim” within the meaning of the defendant company’s D&O insurance policy and therefore that the proceeding is not a covered claim under the policy. Because it ruled there is no coverage, the Court did not address the other more controversial aspects of the lower court’s ruling. The Supreme Court’s October 23, 2020 opinion in In re Solera Insurance Coverage Appeals can be found here.
Continue Reading Delaware Supreme Court: Appraisal Action Not a “Securities Claim” and Therefore Not Covered by D&O Insurance

In a recent decision following a bench trial, a California state court judge held that a D&O insurance policy’s “bump up” exclusion applies to preclude coverage for the settlement of claims by shareholders of the acquired company who claimed they had received inadequate consideration for their acquired shares. The judge’s decision, which reflected her reading of the specific exclusionary language involved as well as the testimony of several witnesses about the meaning of the provision, is interesting in that the “bump up” exclusion fights usually involve claims against the acquirer for paying inadequate consideration, not claims that the acquired company’s investors received inadequate consideration.

The court’s opinion is detailed but merits a full reading. The Court’s October 1, 2020 decision can be found here. (It should be noted that, under applicable procedural rules, the court’s decision is “tentative,” meaning that the parties have 15 days in which to file objections.)
Continue Reading “Bump-Up” Exclusion Blocks Coverage for Inadequate Consideration Paid for Insured Company’s Acquisition

Andrew Solyntjes
Andrew Lipton

In the current economic turmoil, bankruptcy is a big concern. In the following guest post, Andrew Solyntjes, Markel Bermuda Limited, and Andrew G. Lipton, of the White & Williams law firm, take review some of the key bankruptcy-related D&O insurance issues. A version of this article previously was published as a White & Williams client alert. 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. Here is the authors’ article.
Continue Reading Guest Post: Bankruptcy and D&O Insurance: Top Tips and Reminders