A perception has emerged in certain circles that Delaware Superior Court is a favorable forum for D&O insurance policyholder and unfavorable for D&O insurers. However, in a recent decision in a D&O insurance coverage dispute by the federal court in Delaware (as opposed to the state court in Delaware) not only determined that Delaware law applied but also determined that there was no coverage under the applicable policy for the underlying claim. As discussed below, the court’s ruling in the case may suggest that Delaware’s federal court may represent an alternative to Delaware’s state courts for D&O insurers. A copy of the District of Delaware’s May 23, 2022 decision in the Cocrystal case can be found here.
Continue Reading Del. Federal Court Rules in Insurer’s Favor in D&O Insurance Coverage Dispute

Readers of this blog will be interested to know that in a recent D&O insurance coverage dispute, the Delaware Superior Court actually handed the D&O insurers a win — a rare development indeed in Delaware’s courts. However, the D&O insurers won by successfully arguing that Delaware law governed the insurance dispute; the ultimate outcome may have been due in part to the fact that the losing policyholder was in the uncomfortable position of trying to argue that another jurisdiction’s law controlled after all after having first argued that Delaware law applied. There are a lot of twists and turns to this case, but, as discussed below, the outcome of this case arguably is far from reassuring to D&O insurers, even though the insurers prevailed in this case.
Continue Reading Rare D&O Insurer Win in Delaware Court, But Should D&O Insurers Celebrate?

A standard feature of virtually every commercial contract is a choice-of-law clause. The general perception is that these types of clauses help facilitate settlement and reduce litigation costs. There is, however, one type of contract the usually omits choice-of law-clauses – insurance policies. Throughout the insurance industry and across most lines of coverage, insurance policies lack choice of law clauses. The reasons why insurance policies omit provisions that are standard for virtually every other type of commercial contract is the subject of an interesting new paper from University of North Carolina Law Professor John F. Coyle, entitled “The Mystery of the Missing Choice-of-Law Clause.” Coyle’s paper raises a number of interesting questions, some of which may be relevant as some insurers consider the question of whether they many need to add choice of law clauses to their policies. A copy of Professor Coyle’s December 2, 2021 paper can be found here.
Continue Reading Why Don’t Insurance Policies Have Choice-of-Law Clauses?

In a development that undoubtedly will be discussed among D&O insurance professionals for months to come, the Delaware Supreme Court issued an opinion last week in the long-running Dole Foods insurance coverage battle. Many D&O insurance industry observers will not be surprised to learn that the Delaware Court’s opinion is favorable to policyholders. As discussed below, the opinion (and the many rulings in the court below in this dispute) may encourage insurers to consider possible policy wording revisions. A copy of the Delaware Supreme Court’s March 3, 2021 opinion can be found here.
Continue Reading Del. Sup. Ct. Rules for Insureds in Long-Running Dole Foods D&O Insurance Coverage Dispute

It is not uncommon for coverage disputes to arise in connection with D&O insurance claims, but every now and then there is a coverage dispute so broad that it constitutes a veritable D&O insurance coverage curriculum. That was certainly the case in what a Delaware Superior Court judge called the “sprawling insurance coverage dispute” between a unit of Northrup Grumman and its predecessors-in-interest’s D&O insurers. The coverage dispute arose out of underlying claims relating to the 2015 merger of Alliant Techsystems, Inc and Orbital Sciences Corporation to form Orbital ATK, Inc. The court’s lengthy opinion on the parties’ cross-motions for summary judgment and for judgment on the pleadings covers a wide variety of recurring D&O insurance coverage issues and makes for interesting reading for anyone involved with D&O insurance. The Delaware Superior Court’s February 2, 2021 opinion in the Northrup Grumman case can be found here.
Continue Reading Delaware Court Addresses “Sprawling” Northrup Grumman D&O Insurance Coverage Dispute

In the following guest post, Jeremy Salzman and Kylie Tomas of Sompo International and Ommid Farashahi and Jonathan Cipriani of BatesCarey LLP discuss a recent series of Delaware court decisions in which the courts applied Delaware law in addressing insurance coverage disputes. In their article, the authors question Delaware law appropriately should have been the law applied in those cases. 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 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: No Choice of Law in Delaware Coverage Disputes?

In a recent decision, the Delaware Superior Court, applying Delaware law, held that two of Pfizer’s excess D&O insurers are on the hook for their portion of costs the company incurred in defending and settling a securities class action lawsuit, despite the excess insurers’ arguments that the claim was interrelated with an earlier securities suit and that coverage was therefore precluded under their policies’ Specific Litigation Exclusion. The critical determinant in the court’s ruling may have been its decision that Delaware law governed the coverage dispute, but there are still a number of interesting elements about issue of claims relatedness. The Delaware Superior Court’s July 23, 2019 decision can be found here.
Continue Reading D&O Insurance: Specific Litigation Exclusion Does Not Preclude Coverage for Subsequent Securities Suit

The insurance coverage litigation arising from the settlement of the shareholder claims filed in connection with the Dole Food Company’s November 2013 “going private” transaction continues to grind on. In the latest development in the coverage dispute, a Delaware Superior Court judge has entered a number of interesting rulings, deciding among other things that an underlying determination that an insured committed fraud does not make the claim uninsurable as a matter of Delaware law. Delaware Superior Court Judge Eric Davis’s March 1, 2018 opinion in the Dole Foods coverage litigation can be found here.  
Continue Reading Insurance for Fraudulent Misconduct Does Not Violate Delaware Public Policy

Pop quiz: the law of which jurisdiction should govern a coverage dispute arising under D&O insurance policies issued by U.S-domiciled insurers to an NYSE company incorporated in Delaware with its headquarters in Oregon? If you find the answer "British Columbia" as surprising as I do, read on. The court decision discussed below could have important