Samantha Wu

In prior posts, I have noted the series of U.S. securities class action lawsuits that have been filed recently against publicly traded companies in the cannabis business, including several Canadian companies. In the following guest post, Samantha Wu of the Bersenas Jacobsen Chouest Thomson Blackburn law firm in Toronto provides an overview of the unique exposures that directors and officers of Canadian cannabis companies face. A version of this article previously was published on the law firm’s website (here). I would like to thank Sam 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 Sam’s article.
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On November 21, 2019, when a plaintiff shareholder filed a securities class action lawsuit against Aurora Cannabis, Inc. and certain of its directors and officers, the company became the latest U.S.-listed Canadian cannabis company to be hit with a U.S. securities class action lawsuit. The lawsuit against Aurora came just one day after a different claimant launched a separate U.S. securities lawsuit against another Canadian-based and U.S.-listed cannabis company, Canopy Growth. These two companies join a growing list of cannabis-related firms that have been hit with securities suits this year. As discussed below, these cannabis-related company lawsuits are one of several factors contributed to the continued elevated level of securities class action lawsuit filings in the U.S.
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One of the things that happened both in the lead up to and in the wake of the October 2018 legalization of cannabis-based products in Canada is that a number of Canada-based cannabis companies listed their shares on U.S. securities exchanges. From the outset, D&O insurers have regarded the cannabis companies as a distinct risk and as a tough class of business. Earlier on, there were relatively few claims to substantiate these concerns. However, there have now been a number of securities class action lawsuits filed against U.S.-listed Canadian companies, with the latest lawsuit filed just this week.
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Paul T. Curley

One of the more interesting businesses to emerge in recent years has been the legal marijuana industry. Because of lingering legal issues, this industry’s emergence has been accompanied by a host of complications. These complications in turn raise a number of challenges for insurers seeking to get involving in this industry. In the following guest post, Paul T. Curley takes a look at the opportunities and challenges for insurers in connection with the legal marijuana industry. Paul is a partner in the Insurance Coverage and Coverage Litigation Group at Kaufman Borgeest & Ryan LLP. I would like to thank Paul 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 Paul’s article.
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For those of us involved in day to day D&O insurance transactions, it is a recognized fact that cannabis-related companies represent a tough class of insurance business. Different insurers take different approaches to the business, but at best it is a risk class that most carriers approach warily. There are reasons for the caution, mostly having to do with questions relating to legality across and between jurisdictions. The question of potential claims is a little less certain, as there arguably are relatively few claims examples. However, a recent securities class action lawsuit involving a Canadian-based cannabis business may provide some insight into the kinds of claims in which these kinds of companies may become involved – at least those that are publicly traded.
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