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

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Peter M. Gillon
Alex Hardiman - Counsel - Litigation
Alexander Hardiman

One of the most distinctive corporate and securities litigation phenomena over the last several years has been the rise in merger objection lawsuits. We are now to the point that virtually every M&A transaction attracts at least one lawsuit. These suits present a number of challenges, including, among other things, questions arising in connection with D&O insurance coverage for the companies and individuals named as defendants in the lawsuits, particularly with respect to the price change exclusion, sometimes referred to as the “bump up” exclusion.

In the following guest post, Peter M. Gillon and Alexander Hardiman of the Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP law firm take a look at the insurance coverage issues that frequently arise in these types of cases and offer some practical advice about the ways that insureds can maximize their insurance coverage when these claims arise, particularly in dealing with issues involving the bump up exclusion. Peter is a Partner and Alex is Counsel at the Pillsbury law firm. A version of this article was recently published as a Pillsbury client alert.

I would like to thank Peter and Alex for their willingness 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 Peter and Alex’s guest post.

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With the explosion of “merger objection” lawsuits being filed by the plaintiffs’ securities bar in the last decade, policyholders seeking coverage under their directors’ and officers’ (D&O) liability insurance for those suits have increasingly been bumping heads with their insurance carriers over the application of the “price change exclusion” (also referred to as the “bump-up” exclusion).  This has been a major source of frustration for companies reasonably expecting their policies to respond fully to merger objection suits – especially shareholder suits claiming breach of fiduciary duties by the target company’s Board of Directors in approving the sale of the target.  Many companies and their securities defense counsel have capitulated in the face of their carriers’ declinations of coverage.  But, as this note explains, it is critical to consult with coverage counsel on these matters as insurers’ assertion of the price change exclusion is often misplaced. 
Continue Reading Guest Post: Maximizing the Return on Your D&O Insurance for Merger Objection Lawsuit

One of the recurring D&O insurance issues is the question of policy coverage for additional acquisition consideration paid to an acquired companies’ shareholders – so-called "bump up" claims. In an interesting and colorfully written September 28, 2009 opinion (here) that insurers undoubtedly will cite profusely in future disputes of this kind, District of Massachusetts