In an interesting March 18, 2024, decision, a California federal district court, applying California law, has held that insurance coverage may be available under the D&O liability endorsement to a community association policy for a claim arising from funds misdirected due to fraudulent payment instructions in a spoofed email. The court held that because the non-payment happened due to the association’s treasurer’s alleged negligence, the vendor’s claim for non-payment arose out of “wrongful acts” of the treasurer, and therefore the vendor’s claim triggered coverage. The court’s decision raises some interesting possibilities about the potential for D&O insurance coverage for these kinds of misdirected payment claims, and it also raises interesting possibilities about potential coverage for breach of contract claims.Continue Reading Claim for Nonpayment Due to Payment Instruction Fraud Potentially Covered Under D&O Policy

Section 533 of the California Insurance Code provides that an insurer is not liable for loss caused by an insured’s willful act. The applicability and impact of Section 533 are frequently litigated issues in insurance coverage cases to which California law applies. The following guest post surveys the recent significant case law involving Section 533. The article’s authors are Marisa DeMartini, Vice President, Management Claims Liability Manager, Ascot Insurance Company, James Talbert, Associate, Bailey Cavalieri LLC and Elan Kandel, Member, Bailey Cavalieri LLC. 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 author’s article.Continue Reading Guest Post: 2023 Survey of Significant Decisions Involving California Section 533

In my recent wrap-up of the top D&O stories of 2023, I noted that one of the key developments during the past year was California’s adoption of new climate change disclosure requirements, which were enacted at a time when there was the added prospect that the SEC would finally release its own climate change disclosure guidelines by April 2024. While the California requirements have not yet been implemented and the final SEC disclosure guidelines have not yet even been released, there are growing signs that these climate change-related disclosure requirements may face significant hurdles and challenges.

It is not news that the SEC disclosure guidelines, whenever they are finally released, likely will face significant legal challenges, as I have previously noted on this site (here). However, this past week, in a Congressional hearing before a House Financial Services subcommittee, as reported in a January 18, 2024, Law360 article (here), spokespersons for conservative and business interests reiterated their belief that the SEC’s climate change disclosure guidelines, as proposed, reflect “several deficiencies,” and likely will face significant legal challenges.Continue Reading Climate Change Disclosure Requirements Face Hurdles and Challenges

Ever since March 2022, when the SEC released its proposed climate change disclosure guidelines, observers and commentators have watching and waiting to see when the agency would release its final disclosure rules. But in the meantime, important developments elsewhere may mean that many companies may face climate change-related disclosure requirements regardless of the shape the SEC’s final guidelines take. As I noted (here), in July, the European Union adopted its first set of sustainability reporting standards, which will have extensive impact both within and outside the EU. Now, the California legislature has adopted two far-reaching climate-related disclosure bills, which could affect thousands of companies – both public and private, and both within and outside California – and that together could, as the Wall Street Journal put it, represent “among the biggest changes in corporate disclosure in decades.”Continue Reading California Enacts Far-Reaching Climate-Related Disclosure Requirements

In a recent short opinion, the Ninth Circuit held that the California statute precluding insurance coverage for loss caused by a willful act bars coverage for the underlying malicious prosecution claim even though the claim settled and there was no adjudication that the alleged willful act took place. For reasons set out below, I believe the court’s interpretation of the statute –-even though apparently well-grounded in established authority — goes beyond the statute’s purpose and plain language and produces a result that undermines the very purposes of the insurance policy. The Ninth Circuit’s March 15, 2023, opinion can be found here. A March 22, 2023 post on the Wiley Law Firm’s Executive Summary Blog about the decision can be found here. Continue Reading Adjudication Not Required for California’s Statutory Willful Act Coverage Preclusion

The Marriott Marquis San Diego

It was my pleasure last week to attend the annual PLUS Conference, this year held in San Diego. It was great to be back at a live PLUS event again and to see so many colleagues from around the industry. As always, the PLUS staff did an amazing job organizing the event, and the turnout was great as well. It was also great to be back in San Diego. It was a little bit cool and it rained on Tuesday but despite that San Diego was still beautiful. It was great to see many old friends and to make new friends as well.
Continue Reading PLUS Conference in San Diego

In most instances, corporate officers cannot be held personally liable for the misconduct of the company they serve. However, there are occasions when corporate officers can be held personally liable in their individual capacities for corporate acts or omissions. A recent decision by a California intermediate appellate court held that an individual who served as a company’s CEO and CFO can be held liable for the claimants’ unpaid wages. As discussed below, the ruling represents an interesting example of the circumstances in which individuals can be held liable for company misconduct. A copy of the California Court of Appeal’s June 28, 2022 decision can be found here. A July 21, 2022 post on The CorporateCounsel.net blog about the decision can be found here.
Continue Reading California Appellate Court Holds Corporate Officer Personally Liable for Unpaid Wages

Virginia Milstead

In the following guest post, Virginia Milstead, a partner at the Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP law firm, reviews and considers the implications of the May 13, 2022 verdict in Crest v. Padilla, in which the Los Angeles County Superior Court held that California’s statute requiring women on corporate boards violates the state constitution’s equal protection clause. A version of this article previously was published as a Skadden client alert; this version is updated to reflect the fact that the California secretary of state has indicated that she will appeal the court’s verdict. I would like to than the author for allowing me to publish her 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 the author’s article.
Continue Reading Guest Post: California Trial Court Strikes Down Women on Boards Law

In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Cyan decision, corporate defendants faced the risk of wasteful and duplicative federal and state court securities litigation. In order to address this concern, corporate reformers suggested that companies should adopt provisions in their corporate charters designating an exclusive federal forum for securities litigation. The Delaware Supreme Court upheld the facial validity under Delaware law of federal forum provisions in the Sciabacucchi decision, but the question remained whether the courts in other jurisdictions would enforce the provisions. A number of courts in California and New York did subsequently uphold the provisions, but these were all trial court rulings.

Now, in an important legal development, a California intermediate appellate court has upheld the enforcement of the provisions, the first appellate decision on the issue outside Delaware. The California appellate court’s ruling in the Restoration Robotics case could represent a significant milestone in the development of post-Cyan litigation. A copy of the California appellate court’s April 28, 2022 decision can be found here. An April 29, 2022 memo from the Latham & Watkins law firm about the appellate court’s decision can be found here.
Continue Reading California Appellate Court Upholds and Enforces Federal Forum Provision

Many fledgling companies aspire toward completing an IPO. Some succeed, but many others do not. Occasionally when a company falls short of its IPO plan, litigation results, in the form of a “failure to launch” claim. A recent example involving a California-based cannabis company illustrates how these kinds of claims can arise. As discussed below, these possibility for these kinds of claims has insurance implications.
Continue Reading Cannabis Company Hit with “Failure to Launch” Claim