In a recent decision in an insurance coverage dispute, the Delaware Superior Court granted the insurers’ motions to dismiss, holding that coverage under two towers of insurance was precluded, respectively, by the No Action clause and the Past Acts Exclusion. Insurance coverage practitioners and observers will find this decision interesting in and of itself, for what it says about the relevant policy provisions, and as a general matter, as an example of a Delaware court coverage decision. As discussed below, the decision arguably is an expectations-defying example of an insurer-friendly Delaware court coverage decision. A copy of the court’s May 9, 2024 decision opinion can be found here.Continue Reading Del. Court Dismisses Coverage Suit Based on No Action, Prior Acts Clauses

As readers undoubtedly have noted, one of the hot topics these days is the question whether corporations should change their state of incorporation from Delaware to that of another state, usually either Nevada or Texas. The dialog on this topic was already underway when Elon Musk supercharged the conversation by vowing, in reaction to the Delaware court’s disallowance of his $56 billion pay package, to have Tesla change its state of incorporation from Delaware to Texas. I suspect that the state of incorporation debate is going to be with us for some time to come, making it important for those of us who might have to participate in (or at least listen to) the conversation to get a handle on the key differences between the states.Continue Reading Delaware or Another State: What’s the Difference?

From time to time, I am asked to speak directly to corporate boards of directors. I find these opportunities endlessly fascinating. Among other things, I learn so much from the directors’ questions. One frequently recurring question I get is:  what can directors do to avoid litigation or to be in a position better defend themselves if they are sued. The first thing I always talk about when asked these kinds of question is the importance of board minutes. Because this is one of my go-to talking points when I meet with boards, I was particularly pleased to see the recent post on the Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance blog written by Leo E. Strine, Jr., the former Delaware Supreme Court Chief Justice and Chancellor, in which Strine highlights the importance of board minutes in corporate litigation. Strine’s comments are essential reading for anyone concerned with the liabilities of corporate directors. Strine’s April 4, 2024 article can be found here.Continue Reading The Importance of Board Minutes

For nearly 40 years, Delaware Corporations have been permitted to adopt corporate charter provisions exculpated their directors from liability. Effective August 1, 2022, Section 102(b)(7) of the Delaware General Corporations Law (DGCL) was amended to permit Delaware corporations to adopt charter provisions exculpating officers, in order to provide officers with protection from liability for monetary damages similar to the protection available to directors. In the time since the officer exculpation amendment provision went into effect, many Delaware corporations have adopted officer exculpation provisions; the record so far suggest that these provisions generally enjoy significant shareholder support. As discussed below, these developments should also be of interest to D&O insurance professionals.Continue Reading Companies Adopting Officer Exculpation Amendments to Corporate Charters

It is an idea that suddenly is all the rage – that companies should shake the Delaware dust off their feet and reincorporate elsewhere. Elon Musk has famously said, in the wake of the Delaware Chancery Court’s decision voiding his $55.8 billion pay package, that he will seek to reincorporate Tesla in Texas. (SpaceX, also a Musk company, has in fact already reincorporated in Texas.) The former Attorney General William Barr and another GOP official published a Wall Street Journal column arguing that Delaware’s courts are driving corporations away (as discussed here), and suggesting that companies increasingly will find it more attractive to be incorporated in Nevada or another state. Some companies have indeed left Delaware and reincorporated elsewhere – including not just SpaceX, but also TripAdvisor, for example. Why would a company change its state of incorporation from Delaware to another state? And with reference to the focus of  this blog, does a company’s redomestication from Delaware to another state have implications for the potential liability exposures of the company’s directors and officers?Continue Reading Does a Del. Corp.’s Reincorporation in Another State Reduce D&O Liability Exposure?

Priya Huskins

On January 30, 2024, Delaware Chancellor Kathaleen McCormick issued a 200-page post-trial opinion voiding the $55 billion compensation package that the Tesla board had approved for the company’s CEO, Elon Musk. In the following guest post, Priya Huskins, Esq., Senior Vice President at Woodruff Sawyer, takes a detailed look at Chancellor McCormick’s opinion and considers the opinion’s practical implications. A version of this article was previously published in the D&O Notebook. I would like to thank Priya 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 Priya’s article.Continue Reading Guest Post: Lessons from the Rescission of Elon Musk’s $55.8B Option Grant

In a January 25, 2023, opinion in the McDonald’s case that has become known as McDonald’s I, Delaware Vice Chancellor Travis Laster held, as discussed in detail here, that liability for breach of the duty of oversight can extend to corporate officers as well as to directors. While there have been subsequent cases that have raised breach of the duty of oversight claims against officers, there have been no published decisions analyzing the duty of oversight as pertains to officers — that is, until now.

In a short December 14, 2023, opinion that emphasizes the high bar for oversight claims against officers, Vice Chancellor Lori Will dismissed claims that the personal transportation device company Segway brought against its former President. VC Will expressly rejected any suggestion that the standard to plead an oversight breach claim against a corporate officer is any lower than the high standards applicable to oversight claims against directors. A copy of VC Will’s opinion can be found here.Continue Reading Delaware Court: High Barrier for Oversight Claims Against Officers

Public company D&O insurance policies provide entity coverage (that is, insurance for the benefit of the insured organization) only for “Securities Claims.” But what is a “Securities Claim”? That is the question that Delaware’s courts have grappled with in a long-running dispute between the telecommunications company Verizon and its insurers.

The Delaware Superior Court had

By now, readers are well aware that ESG has become a politically divisive issue. In a series of variations on this theme, two conservative legal commentators, writing in a Wall Street Journal op-ed column, argue that ESG is a trojan horse for progressive political objectives that, if Delaware’s courts continue their current course, could cost the state its privileged position as the preferred jurisdiction for corporate organization. The November 25, 2023 Journal op-ed, which was written by former U.S. Attorney General William Barr and Washington Attorney and former Department of Labor official Jonathan Berry, and is entitled “Delaware is Trying Hard to Drive Away Corporations,” can be found here.Continue Reading Will Delaware’s Embrace of an “ESG Agenda” Cause Corporations to Flee?

Some D&O insurance policy exclusions are written with the broad “based upon, arising out of, in any way relating to” preamble. These exclusions sweep broadly, precluding coverage for a wide range of claims. The ever-present question when insurers seek to rely on these exclusions’ sweeping reach is: how broad of a reach it too broad? What is the outer limit of these exclusions’ preclusive effect?

In a decision that is worth reading closely, the Delaware Supreme Court recently concluded that, despite its broad preamble, a management liability insurance policy’s professional services exclusion did not apply to preclude coverage for the underlying claim. The decision not only explores important questions about the reach of exclusions with the broad preamble, but it also underscores the deeper question about the use of the broad preamble for these types of exclusions in the first place. The Delaware Supreme Court’s September 14, 2023, opinion in the case can be found here.Continue Reading The “Broad Preamble” Problem in D&O Insurance Exclusions