In the following guest post, Sarah Abrams, Head of Professional Liability Claims at Bowhead Specialty, discusses the updated compliance rules for Private Equity Firms and Hedge Funds, which the SEC released on August 23, 2023. I would like to thank Sarah for allowing me to publish her article 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 Sarah’s article.Continue Reading Guest Post: New SEC PE and Hedge Fund Disclosure Rules Winners? The Lawyers
One of the perennial issues involving D&O insurance coverage in the bankruptcy context is the question whether the directors and officers of the corporate debtor can tap the insurance policy to pay their defense expenses in connection with claims filed against them in their capacities as executives of the corporate entity. These issues have arisen once again in the bankruptcy proceedings of the corporate parent of Silicon Valley Bank, SVB Financial Group, where the bank’s directors and officers found themselves compelled to petition the bankruptcy court to lift the stay in bankruptcy in order for the bank’s insurers to pay the individuals’ defense expenses.
While there is nothing novel about the bankruptcy court’s order granting the stay, both the high-profile nature of the proceedings and the critical importance of the issues involved warrant taking a closer look at what unfolded in that case. A copy of the bankruptcy court’s May 22, 2023, order in the case can be found here. An August 23, 2023, memo from the Foley Hoag law firm about the court’s decision can be found here.Continue Reading SVB Bankruptcy Court Lifts Stay to Allow Insurance to Pay Individuals’ Defense Expenses
As I have noted on this site, for the last several years (going back at least to 2021, and arguably even further than that), one of the significant factors contributing to securities class action lawsuit filings has been the number of SPAC-related securities suits. In the latest sign that the trend of SPAC-related securities suit filings is continuing, on August 23, 2023, a plaintiff shareholder filed a securities suit in the Southern District of Florida against medical payments collection firm MSP Recovery and certain of its executives, as well as against the directors and officers of the SPAC into which the company merged in 2022. A copy of the plaintiff’s complaint can be found here. PLEASE ALSO SEE THE UPDATE, below.Continue Reading SPAC-Related Securities Suit Filed Against Medical Payments Recovery Firm
In early August 2023, wildfires broke out on the Hawaiian island of Maui. The wildfires caused the deaths of at least 115 people, and also caused massive property damage. In the aftermath, questions began to circulate about what had caused the fires. Among those under the spotlight is Hawaii’s largest electrical utility, Hawaiian Electric Industries. Indeed, on August 24, 2023, Maui County filed a lawsuit against the utility, alleging that its power lines caused the wildfire. With the adverse publicity, the utility’s share price has slumped. Now, a plaintiff shareholder has filed a securities lawsuit against the company. As discussed below, the new securities lawsuit may represent something of a prototype for future litigation involving companies whose business operations are disrupted by changing climate conditions and by the increase in extreme weather conditions and events. A copy of the securities suit complaint can be found here.Continue Reading Electric Utility Linked to Maui Wildfires Hit with Securities Suit
As regular readers know, I have for several years been tracking on this site the largest shareholder derivative lawsuit settlements. In the following guest post, Erin McGinn, Head of Financial Lines Claims, Vantage Risk, analyses and discusses the largest recent shareholder derivative lawsuit settlements and considers the settlements’ implications for Side-A D&O insurance. A version of this article was previously published on vantagerisk.com. I would like to thank Erin for allowing me to publish her 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 Erin’s article.Continue Reading Guest Post: As Derivative Settlements Trend Higher, Side-A Coverage Becomes Crucial
The SEC has not yet adopted the long-anticipated final version of its proposed climate change disclosure guidelines, although there is some speculation that the final guidelines will be adopted in the Fall. In the meantime, however, sustainability reporting standards are going into effect elsewhere, with important ramifications for all companies.
On July 31, 2023, the European Commission adopted the first set of European Sustainability Reporting Standards (ESRS), which require EU and non-EU companies with specified levels of EU activity to file annual sustainability reports with their financial statements. The standards will soon become law and apply in all 27 EU Member states, with compliance requirements effective as early as 2025 for the 2024 reporting period. The ESRS as adopted on July 31, 2023, by the European Commission can be found here. The European Commission’s adoption of the first set of ESRS and the reporting standard’s requirements are described in detail in an August 11, 2023, memo from the Cooley law firm, here.Continue Reading EU Adopts Mandatory ESG Reporting Requirements
As I have noted in recent posts on this site, the developing trend toward anti-ESG litigation has targeted, among other corporate initiatives, company adoption of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) programs. These and other developments have encouraged some companies to soft-pedal their initiatives in this and other areas, a phenomenon that has been described as “greenhushing.” But as noted in a recent memo from attorneys at the Wachtel Lipton law firm, while scrutiny for DEI initiatives may continue, companies and their boards properly may pursue DEI strategies as part of their companies’ overall missions. The August 19, 2023, memo in the Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance can be found here.Continue Reading DEI Initiatives Face Increased Scrutiny
As I noted in a prior post (here), in June, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to take up a case to consider the legality of the SEC’s use of in-house administrative tribunals, which the agency uses to enforce the federal securities laws. As discussed below in a guest post written by Greg Markel, a partner at the Seyfarth Shaw law firm, and Gershon Akerman, an associate at the firm, the case could have important implications for the SEC’s enforcement authority and could affect the agency’s other activities as well. This article previously was published as a Seyfarth client alert. I would like to thank Greg and Gershon for allowing me to publish their 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 the authors’ article.Continue Reading Guest Post: Sup. Ct. to Rule When Feds Must Provide Enforcement Action Jury Trial
In the wake of the 2019 merger of Viacom and CBS that formed ViacomCBS (later renamed Paramount Global), former shareholders of both CBS and Viacom filed separate D&O liability lawsuits. As discussed here, the CBS shareholders’ lawsuit settled $165.5 million. The separate Viacom shareholders’ lawsuit settled for $122.5 million, and now the battle has shifted to insurance coverage litigation in which the Viacom’s excess insurers contend that coverage for the settlement is precluded by the primary policy’s Bump-Up Provision.
In an interesting August 10, 2023, opinion, Delaware Superior Court Judge Sheldon K. Rennie, applying Delaware law, granted Viacom’s motion for partial summary judgment, holding that the Bump-Up Provision does not preclude coverage for the settlement. As discussed below, Judge Rennie’s holding turned on the nature of the transaction in which Viacom and CBS merged, and, even more significantly, on the contrast between the wording of the Bump-Up Provision, on the one hand, and other policy provisions dealing with merger situations, on the other hand. A copy of Judge Rennie’s opinion can be found here.Continue Reading Bump-Up Provision Does Not Bar Viacom Shareholders’ Suit Settlement Coverage
I have noted for some time now in posts on this site the development of an ESG backlash, which has taken a variety of forms, including through both political action and litigation. For example, I recently noted two ESG backlash lawsuits that had been filed against major U.S. airlines. Now in the latest example of an ESG backlash lawsuit, a plaintiff shareholder has filed a securities suit against the retailing giant Target Corporation and certain of its directors and officers based on allegations that the defendants “betrayed both Target’s core customer base … and its investors by making false and misleading statements concerning Target’s Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) mandates that let to its disastrous children-and-family themed LGBT-Pride campaign.” A copy of the complaint in the new Target lawsuit can be found here.Continue Reading Target Hit with ESG-Backlash Securities Suit