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

Many traditional liability insurance policies contain provisions specifying that in the event of a claim the insurer has the duty to defend the insured. However, many management liability insurance policies do not impose a duty on the insurer to defend the insured; rather, these policies usually provide that insureds will defend themselves, with the obligation on the insurer to advance defense costs as they are incurred, subject to all of the policy’s terms and conditions. However, because defense obligations under the more traditional duty to defend arrangement are well established and more familiar to many courts, courts sometimes attempt to resolve issues arising under duty to advance policies by referring to principles established with regard to duty to defend policies.

In a recent decision, the Ninth Circuit declined to apply duty to defend principles to interpret a D&O insurer’s duty to advance, holding that the insurer’s duty to advance extended only to actually covered claim and not to potentially covered claims as would be the case under a duty to defend policy. The appellate court also affirmed the district court’s rulings with respect to the applicability of the policy’s wage and hour claims exclusion; the policy’s definition of “loss,” precluding coverage for amounts deemed “penalties” in the applicable statute; and the insured vs. insured exclusion. A copy of Ninth Circuit’s June 17, 2020 opinion can be found here.
Continue Reading D&O Insurer’s Duty to Advance Defense Costs Applies to Covered Claims, Not Potentially Covered Claims

The long-running insurance coverage litigation arising from the settlements of the shareholder claims filed in connection with the Dole Food Company’s November 2013 “going private” transaction continues to work its way through the Delaware court. In the latest development in the coverage dispute, a Delaware Superior Court judge has entered two separate  interesting orders, the first granting the insurer’s motion for summary judgment on the defendants’ bad faith counterclaim, and the second denying the insurers’ summary judgment motions, among other things, on the consent to settlement and cooperation clause issues. Delaware Superior Court Judge Eric Davis’s May 1, 2019 opinion on the bad faith counterclaim can be found here.  Judge Davis’s May 7, 2019 opinion on the consent to settlement and cooperation clause issues can be found here.
Continue Reading Del. Court Addresses Summary Judgement Issues in Dole Foods Take-Private Transaction Insurance Coverage Litigation

In the latest development in nearly decade-long legal battle, a New York intermediate appellate court has held in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2017 decision in Kokesh v. SEC that amounts Bear Stearns paid under an SEC disgorgement order represent a “penalty” for which coverage is precluded under the bank’s insurance policy. This ruling, which overturned a trial court order holding that the disgorgement amount was covered, represents a substantial reversal of fortune for the claimants in this long-running and high-profile insurance coverage dispute. While further proceedings in the case seem likely, the ruling nevertheless represents a setback for policyholders seeking to establish insurance coverage for disgorgement amounts. The intermediate appellate court’s September 20, 2018 opinion can be found here.
Continue Reading N.Y. Appellate Court: Coverage Precluded for Disgorgement “Penalty”

new yorkIn what seems like the culminating trial court clash in the long-running effort of J.P. Morgan, as successor in interest to Bear Stearns, to try to obtain insurance coverage for amounts Bear Stearns paid to settle charges that it had facilitated market timing and late trading, New York (New York County) Supreme Court Judge Charles E. Ramos, applying New York law, on April 17, 2017 entered a summary judgment order (here) comprehensively rejecting the insurers’ various remaining coverage defenses. While further appellate proceedings in the case seem likely, Judge Ramos’s order makes for interesting reading.
Continue Reading In Long-Running Bear Stearns Dispute, N.Y. Court Rejects Insurers’ Remaining Coverage Defenses