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Kevin M. LaCroix is an attorney and Executive Vice President, RT ProExec, a division of R-T Specialty, LLC. RT ProExec is an insurance intermediary focused exclusively on management liability issues.

In a recent decision in an insurance coverage dispute, a federal court applying Puerto Rico law concluded that there was no coverage under a management liability insurance policy for a discrimination claim that had first been made prior to the policy period of the claims made policy at issue, and that notice of the claim was untimely as well. The court’s conclusion is in a sense unremarkable. What is worth considering about the ruling is how often these same problems recur, as discussed below. The District of Puerto Rico’s May 28, 2020 opinion can be found here. A June 17, 2020 post on the Wiley law firm’s Executive Summary Blog about the decision can be found here.
Continue Reading No Coverage for Claim First Made Prior to the Policy Period of a Claims Made Policy

John Reed Stark

Is a company’s post-breach forensic report subject to discovery in subsequent breach related litigation? That is the question that John Reed Stark, President of John Reed Stark Consulting and former Chief of the SEC’s Office of Internet Enforcement, examines in the following guest post. A version of this article originally appeared on Securities Docket. I would like to thank John 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 John’s article.
Continue Reading Guest Post: Data Breach Forensic Reports: Keeping a Grail Document Confidential

In the latest securities class action lawsuit alleging that the defendant company tried to position itself to investors as able to profit from the coronavirus outbreak, a plaintiff shareholder has filed a securities suit against a company that claimed to have developed COVID-19 tests that were 100% accurate. The plaintiff alleges company’s share price soared based on the company’s statements, but later fell when news reports and regulator statements began to circulate casting doubt on the company’s claimed testing accuracy. A copy of the June 15, 2020 complaint filed against Co-Diagnostics, Inc. can be found here.
Continue Reading Securities Suit Hits Company that Claimed 100% Accurate COVID-19 Tests

A lot has happened since early March, when I first wrote about the possibility that the coronavirus outbreak could lead to D&O claims. At that time, there were only 43 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States and six deaths. Now, three months later, there have been over 2 million confirmed cases in the U.S. and over 115,000 deaths. Along with the public health crisis, a dramatic business downturn has unfolded over the last three months as well, one that likely will continue to effect the economy for months to come. Among other things, in the wake of these dramatic events, a number of disputes have developed, including litigation affecting corporate directors and officers. In this latest installment in my continuing series of monthly reports about the D&O consequences arising from the coronavirus outbreak, I have provided an overview of the developing claims trends, as well as the impact both the circumstances and the claims trends have had on the D&O insurance marketplace.
Continue Reading COVID-19 and D&O Insurance: The Latest Update

The troubled deal in which Advent International Corporation was to acquire cybersecurity firm Forescout Technologies, Inc. is already the subject of litigation pending in Delaware Chancery Court, and indeed a trial in the Delaware merger dispute case is scheduled for July. Now Forescout shareholders have filed a separate securities lawsuit, alleging that between the time the deal was announced in February 2020 and the time that Forescout announced in May 2020 that Advent had advised Forescout that Advent would not “consummate” the acquisition, Forescout made a series of misrepresentations about the company’s financial condition and performance. Among other things, the investors allege that Forescout misrepresented or omitted to disclose the impact that the COVID-19 outbreak was having on its financial performance.  A copy of the plaintiffs’ June 10, 2020 complaint can be found here.
Continue Reading Securities Suit Alleges Cybersecurity Company Misrepresented COVID-19 Impact

In prior enforcement actions the agency filed in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, the SEC has made it clear that it intends to target companies and individuals that are seeking to secure gains by misrepresenting to investors the companies’ ability to profit from the pandemic. On June 9, 2020, the SEC filed what is the latest of these pandemic-related enforcement actions. In its complaint, the agency alleges that a penny stock trader engaged in a fraudulent pump-and-dump scheme involving the stock of a biotechnology company. The SEC alleges he drove the company’s share price by making hundreds of false statements about the company in an online forum, and then after the company’s share price rose, he sold his stock for significant profits.
Continue Reading SEC Files Enforcement Action Based on Alleged COVID-19 Pump-and-Dump Scheme

Gregory A. Markel
Sarah A. Fedner

As this blog’s readers know, a recurring recent topic on this blog has been the need for another round of securities class action litigation reform. In the following guest post, Gregory A. Markel and Sarah A. Fedner of the Seyfarth Shaw law firm explore the possible opportunities for reform with respect two specific areas of concern: duplicative state and federal court litigation in the wake of Cyan and the payment of mootness fees in merger cases. The authors outline the policy objections to these practices and suggest that Congress should intervene to end them. My thanks to Greg and Sarah 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 Greg and Sarah’s article.
Continue Reading Guest Post: Two Areas for Reform in Securities Litigation

As I noted in yesterday’s post, there could be a significant number of bankruptcies in coming months, and D&O claims in the bankruptcy context could give rise to insurance coverage disputes. In addition to the possible coverage issues I noted in yesterday’s post (pertaining bankruptcy exclusions, in particular), another issue that could arise is whether or not coverage for claims brought on behalf of the bankrupt debtor’s estate or on behalf of unsecured creditors is precluded by the insured vs. insured exclusion found in most policies.

Most insured vs. insured exclusions include a carve-back preserving coverage for claims brought by trustees and other estate representatives. In a recent ruling that broadly considered the scope and purpose of the insured vs. insured exclusion’s bankruptcy claim coverage carve-back, a New York intermediate appellate court concluded that the carve-back applied to preserve coverage for a claim brought by a Creditor Trust formed to pursue post-confirmation legal actions on behalf of unsecured creditors. The May 14, 2020 opinion in Westchester Fire Insurance Company v. Schorsch can be found here.
Continue Reading The Insured vs. Insured Exclusion’s Bankruptcy Claim Coverage Carve-Back

As a result of the economic fallout from the coronavirus outbreak, a number of businesses will struggle to survive. Some may wind up in bankruptcy. Indeed, a May 28, 2020 Harvard Business Review article (here), suggests that there could even be a “bankruptcy pandemic” – an “explosion” of bankruptcy proceedings that could “overwhelm” the bankruptcy courts. A number of companies have already filed for bankruptcy, and there undoubtedly will be more to come.

D&O insurance underwriters are well aware of these concerns, and are taking these possibilities into account, both with respect to the financial underwriting they are requiring, and with respect to the terms and conditions they are offering. In some instances, the D&O underwriters are including bankruptcy exclusions or creditors’ claims exclusions among the terms offered. These exclusionary provisions potentially represent a significant diminution of coverage. However, a recent law firm memo raises the question whether or not the type of bankruptcy exclusion that some carriers are offering are, in fact, even enforceable.
Continue Reading A Current Hot D&O Insurance Question: Are Bankruptcy Exclusions Enforceable?

In a June 4, 2020 press release (here), the SEC announced that it had granted an individual a $50 million whistleblower award, the largest ever award to a single individual. While there had been a prior $50 million award that two individuals shared, the largest prior award to a single individual was a 2018 award of $39 million.
Continue Reading SEC Grants Largest Ever Individual Whistleblower Award