I have long believed and said that the typical professional liability and D&O liability insurance policy contractual exclusion written with the broad “based upon, arising out” preamble sweeps too broadly and precludes coverage for the very kind of claims for which policyholders buy the insurance. The Seventh Circuit has now said what I have long been saying; the appellate court found that the contractual liability exclusion in an E&O insurance policy renders coverage under the policy “illusory” and therefore the policy must be reformed to match the policyholder’s “reasonable expectations.” I hope everyone involved in the professional liability and D&O liability insurance industry will take the time to familiarize themselves with this recent decision. I also hope this decision means the end of contractual liability exclusions using the broad “based upon, arising out of” preamble.
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One area of potential legal exposure facing corporate executives – including even executives of private companies – is the risk of liability under laws designed to protect competition, including (but definitely not limited to) state and federal antitrust laws. Claims asserting liability under these various legal provisions not only represent a significant liability exposure for corporate executives, but they also present a number of potentially significant issues when it comes to questions of coverage under the typical private company D&O insurance policy. As discussed below, a recent paper discussed a number of these issues; I discuss additional issues below, as well.
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In a number of recent posts (most recently here), I have emphasized the importance of the wording of the securities exclusion in private company D&O insurance policies. A recent case out of Florida underscores the importance of the securities exclusion wording and illustrates how an unusual wording can lead to the preclusion of coverage for claims that might otherwise be covered. The decision also highlights the extent of the preclusionary effect from exclusions written on a very broad basis. Middle District of Florida Judge William Jung’s January 2, 2019 decision can be found here. A March 5, 2019 Law 360 article from the Jenner & Block firm about the decision can be found here.
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