The so-called “Bump-Up” Exclusion found in many D&O insurance policies excludes coverage for claims alleging that the insured company, as the acquiror, underpaid or sought to underpay for the acquisition of a target company. However, in a recent decision following a bench trial, in which the court interpreted an exclusion that arguably applied to preclude coverage whether or not the insured company was the acquiror or the acquisition target, the court held that the exclusion unambiguously precluded coverage for the settlement of a claim that the directors of Onyx Pharmaceuticals, the insured company, had breached their duties by accepting an inadequate amount for the sale of their company. EDITOR’S NOTE: This post was revised on February 12, 2023.
In the latest development a long-running D&O insurance coverage dispute, a Delaware Court has held that Verizon’s D&O insurance program covers the company’s $95 million settlement of a bankruptcy Trustee’s fraudulent transfer claim. In reaching this conclusion, the Court held, among other things, that the fraudulent transfer claim was a “Securities Claim” within the meaning of Verizon’s primary D&O insurance policy. The specifics of the court’s analysis of this issue underscores how complicated the question of what constitutes a “Securities Claim” can be. A copy of Delaware Superior Court Judge Eric Davis’s October 20, 2022 opinion can be found here.
Continue Reading Delaware Court Holds D&O Insurance Covers Fraudulent Transfer Claim Settlement
Yet another Delaware court has issued a noteworthy management liability insurance coverage opinion. In a detailed September 12, 2022 opinion in a dispute between Godiva Chocolatier and its management liability insurers over coverage for underlying consumer protection claims against the company, Delaware Superior Court Judge Mary M. Johnston rejected many – but not all — of the insurers’ coverage defenses. A copy of Judge Johnston’s opinion can be found here.
Continue Reading Del. Court Narrows Godiva’s Insurers’ Defenses in Dispute Over Coverage for Consumer Protection Claims
In the following guest, Yaminah Williams, Assistant Vice President, Hiscox USA, Alicia Garcia, Claims Counsel, Hiscox USA, Katherine Hausmann, Senior Complex Claims Specialist, Hiscox USA, Elan Kandel, Member, Bailey Cavalieri LLC and James Talbert, Associate, Bailey Cavalieri LLC, review the key 2001 D&O insurance coverage decisions. 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: The Year in Review: 2021 Key D&O Insurance Coverage Decisions
In the latest development in the long-running saga involving the efforts by J.P. Morgan to obtain D&O insurance coverage for the $140 million “disgorgement” that its predecessor-in-interest, Bear Stearns, paid to settle SEC market-timing allegations, the New York Court of Appeals (the state’s highest court) has reversed the intermediate appellate court’s ruling that the payment represented a “penalty” for which coverage is precluded. The Court of Appeals rejected the intermediate appellate court’s conclusion, made in reliance on the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2017 Kokesh decision, that a “disgorgement” payment to the SEC is a “penalty.” The Court of Appeals held that Kokesh did not control, and that because the payment was compensatory in nature, it did not represent a “penalty” for which coverage is precluded under the policies. The Court’s November 24, 2021 opinion can be found here.
Continue Reading New York’s Highest Court Holds SEC “Disgorgement” Payment Not a “Penalty”
The number of False Claims Act cases, both those filed by the government and those filed by qui tam relators, is increasing. As a result, potential False Claims Act liability is increasingly important for companies and for their D&O insurers. At the same time, there have been recent court decisions, applying an expansive reading of D&O insurance policies, that have rejected D&O insurers’ attempts to deny coverage for False Claims Act claims against their policyholders. The recent decisions suggest that companies subject to False Claims Act claims potentially may be able to obtain coverage under their D&O insurance policies – and not only for defense expense, but for settlement amounts as well. An October 26, 2021 Insurance Journal article discussing the insurance implications of the growing number of False Claim Act cases can be found here.
Continue Reading Increased Numbers of False Claims Act Actions and the D&O Insurance Coverage Implications
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”