The drama surrounding former crypto mogul Samuel Bankman-Fried’s criminal prosecution and conviction has dominated the business pages for weeks. In addition, and as the news reports noted at the time, just before the criminal trial began, SBF sued one of FTX’s excess D&O insurers, alleging the insurer was refusing to pay his legal bills. Earlier this week, it emerged that SBF has withdrawn his insurance coverage lawsuit. But while the coverage lawsuit apparently now will not go forward, the interesting questions the situation presented are still worth asking. And the short-lived coverage litigation also unearthed some interesting stuff, as discussed below. Daphne Zhang’s November 7, 2023, Bloomberg article about the coverage litigation, which contains a comprehensive overview of the coverage dispute, can be found here.Continue Reading FTX Legal Drama Includes D&O Coverage Fight (Now Withdrawn, but Not Forgotten)
Most public company D&O insurance policies provide coverage for the corporate entity only for “Securities Claims.” But what constitutes a “Securities Claim”? That is the question the Delaware Supreme Court addressed in a recent appeal of an insurance coverage dispute in which a bankruptcy trustee had sued Verizon for breach of fiduciary duty, unlawful payment of a dividend, and violation of the uniform fraudulent transfer act. The trial court had entered summary judgment for Verizon, ruling that the bankruptcy trustee’s claims represented “Securities Claims” within the meaning of the policy. In an October 31, 2019 decision (here), the Delaware Supreme Court reversed the lower court, ruling that the bankruptcy trustee’s claims were not Securities Claims within the meaning of the policy. As discussed below, the decision raises some interesting issues.
Continue Reading Delaware Supreme Court: What is a “Securities Claim”?
D&O insurance policyholders sometimes bridle when the insurers take steps to try to rein in burgeoning defense expense. In that situation, the D&O insurers will often try to remind the policyholder that because defense expense erodes the limit of liability, it is in everyone’s interest for defense expense to be monitored closely. An unusual coverage action in the Western District of New York reversed the usual concerns about insurer defense cost control. The policyholder sued its D&O insurer for breach of contract, bad faith, and intentional infliction of emotional distress not for failing to pay defense costs or full defense costs, but rather for allowing the policyholder’s defense expenses incurred in an underlying criminal action to exhaust the applicable limit of liability. While it is hardly a surprise that a court concluded that an insurer that paid out its full limits cannot be held liable for breach of contract – much less bad faith or infliction of emotional distress –there are still a number of interesting aspects to this dispute and to the court’s ruling.
Continue Reading News Flash: Insurer That Paid Full Policy Limits Did not Breach the Policy or Act in Bad Faith
In the following guest post, Peter Selvin and Ben Clements take a look at the legal principles involved in the allocation of defense expense under a D&O insurance policy. Peter Selvin is a member of TroyGould PC, and Ben Clements is an associate at the firm. I would like to thank Peter and Ben 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 Peter and Ben’s article.
Continue Reading Guest Post: Allocation of Defense Costs in D&O Litigation
In prior posts (most recently here) I have reviewed cases in which courts considered the question of insurance coverage for a bank’s obligation to repay allegedly improper overdraft fees. The following guest post discusses a recent overdraft fee coverage case from the Seventh Circuit. BancorpSouth v. Federal Insurance Co. (the opinion can be found here). In this guest post, Chris Graham, a founding partner of Jones Lemon Graham LLP, and Shelly Hall, an attorney at the firm and business law adjunct professor, provide an overview of the Seventh Circuit case and also provides a chronology of other overdraft fee coverage cases. A prior version of this article previously appeared on the law firm’s website (here). I would like to thank Chris and Shelly for their willingness to allow me to publish their article as a guest post. 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 an article. Here is Chris and Shelly’s guest post.
Continue Reading Guest Post: Fee Exclusion Precludes Coverage with No Allowance for Defense Costs
As part of our beat here at the The D&O Diary, we read a lot of judicial opinions. We are quite accustomed to the fact that the case outcomes can be and often are all over the map. Just the same, every now and then we read a decision that really makes us scratch our heads. That was our reaction when we read Southern District of Mississippi Chief Judge Louis Guirola, Jr.’s October 2, 2015 opinion in the Singing River Health Systems case (here), in which Judge Guirola, applying Mississippi law, held that when a fiduciary liability insurer defends its insured under a reservation of rights, the defense expense payments do not erode the policy’s limits of liability. A number of questions and concerns may fairly be raised about this decision, as discussed below. The Traub Lieberman Insurance Law Blog has an October 5, 2015 post about Judge Guirola’s decision, here.
Continue Reading Defense Costs Paid Under Reservation of Rights Do Not Erode Fiduciary Liability Policy’s Limit of Liability?
In an interesting March 31, 2014 opinion (here), the Unites States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, applying Puerto Rico law, affirmed a district court’s ruling that the D&O insurer for the failed Westernbank of Mayaguez, Puerto Rico must advance the bank’s former directors’ and officers’ expenses incurred in defending the FDIC’s …
The criminal trial in which Jerry Sandusky, the former defensive coordinator of Penn State’s football team, stands accused of sexually abusing at least 10 boys over a 15-year period began Tuesday, June 4, 2012, in Bellefonte, Pa. Sandusky has been charged with forty criminal counts. Sandusky has also separately named as a defendant in a…
The automatic stay in bankruptcy may be lifted to permit MF Global’s D&O and E&O insurers advance the defense expenses of individual defendants in the underlying litigation arising out of the company collapse, notwithstanding the objections of the failed company’s commodities customers, according to an April 10, 2011 ruling from Southern District of New York…
Among the most contentious D&O claims issues are questions surrounding defense cost coverage, including in particular questions such as the allowable billable rates or the involvement of multiple firms. In a detailed November 8, 2011 opinion, Eastern District of California Judge Lawrence O’Neill, applying California law, addressed the hornets’ nest of problems involved when…