stanfordsealIn the world of corporate governance, there are a number of common presumptions about board structure and practices. However, according to a recent paper, many of these presumptions may in fact represent corporate governance “myths.” In their September 30, 2015 paper entitled “Seven Myths of Boards of Directors” (here) Stanford Business School Professor David Larcker and Resercher Brian Tayan examine several “commonly accepted beliefs about boards of directors that are not substantiated by empirical evidence.”
Continue Reading The “Myth” of Outside Director Liability and the Critical Importance of D&O Insurance

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Burkhard Fassbach
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Niklas Rahlmeyer

This blog’s primary focus is on developments in the directors’ and officers’ liability and insurance in the United States, but we do also try to cover important developments elsewhere. In the following guest post, Burkhard Fassbach, who is Of Counsel with the Dusseldorf based D&O-Specialist Law Firm Hendricks, and Niklas Rahlmeyer, who is an attorney in the corporate practice group of the Dusseldorf office of Field Fisher Waterhouse LLP provide their perspective on the German D&O insurance marketplace and discuss their views on the important insurance coverage issues there.

I would like to thank Burkhard and Niklas for their willingness to publish their article 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 Burkhard’s and Niklas’s guest post.

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The following post sheds light on some of the latest topics of D&O insurance that keep the German market busy. It depicts the concept of manager liability and D&O insurance in Germany, reprimands the German insurers’ practice of settling claims and outlines a catalogue of important issues the policyholder and insureds should keep a wary eye on when taking out D&O insurance coverage.
Continue Reading Guest Post: Marshall Plan for D&O Policies in Germany

wywoSeptember is here. Labor Day has come and gone. That can mean only one thing – time to put away the surf boards, bungee cords, fencing foils, pogo sticks, nunchuks, hula hoops, light sabers, and unicycles, and get back to work. Yes, it is time to answer all those emails and return all of those phone messages. And most important of all, it is time to catch up on what has been happening in the world of directors’ and officers’ liability and insurance. Here is what happened while you were out.
Continue Reading While You Were Out

ninth circuitThe problems that can arise from the wording of the professional services exclusion in the D&O insurance policy of a service company are perennial issues and a recurring topic on this blog (see most recently here). In an unpublished August 18, 2015 opinion (here), the Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s conclusion that coverage for a claim under a payroll services firm’s management liability insurance policy was precluded by the policy’s professional services exclusion. While the preclusion of coverage under the professional services exclusion in services firms’  D&O policies often can be questionable, this instance seems like a situation where the exclusion was applicable. As discussed below, however, there are still some important lessons from this case.
Continue Reading Ninth Circuit: Professional Services Exclusion Precludes Coverage Under Payroll Services Firm’s Management Liability Insurance Policy

floridaIn a recent post (here), I discussed a recent federal district court ruling in which the court broadly interpreted the professional services exclusion in a bank’s D&O insurance policy in order to preclude coverage under the policy for a claim that had been made against the bank and certain of its directors and officers in a case arising out of the long-running Rothstein Ponzi scheme scandal. Southern District of Florida Kathleen M. Williams’s May 2015 opinion in the case, which I discussed in that earlier post, can be found here. As I noted in my earlier post, the case presents an example of the problems that can arise when a professional services firm’s D&O insurance policy contains a professional services exclusion with the  broad “arising out of, based upon, or attributable to” preamble language.

As discussed below, a recent law firm memo analyzing the court’s ruling called Judge Williams’s expansive reading of the language “troubling” and expressed the concern that the breadth of the court’s reading of the exclusion’s preclusive effect could render the D&O insurance policy’s coverage “largely illusory.”
Continue Reading The Problem with a Broadly Worded Professional Service Exclusion in a Service Firm’s D&O Insurance Policy

GaIn  a recent post in which I discussed the “basic value proposition” of D&O insurance, I noted that among the five indispensable elements required in order for coverage under a D&O insurance policy to exist is the requirement that a Claim for an alleged Wrongful Act against an Insured Person acting in an Insured Capacity. The prerequisite that the Insured Person must have been acting in an Insured Capacity at the time of the alleged Wrongful Act arises from the fact that individuals act in a number of different capacities; it is only conduct undertaken in their capacity as an officer or director of the insured company for which the insurance policy provides coverage.

A June 22, 2015 decision by the Eleventh Circuit, applying Georgia law, provides a good illustration of how an individual might be acting in multiple capacities, and underscores the fact that the insurance under a D&O policy is only available when the insured was acting in his or her capacity as a director or officer of the insured company. The case presents some interesting policy wording lessons. A copy of the Eleventh Circuit’s opinion can be found here.
Continue Reading D&O Insurance: A Question of “Capacity”

nystateOne of the standard features of D&O insurance policy is the fraud exclusion, which these days typically provides that the exclusion is triggered only after a “final” judicial determination that the precluded conduct has occurred. But what is it that makes a determination “final”?

On June 23, 2015, in a decision that has a number of important implications, the New York (New York County) Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department, applying New York law, held that the imposition of a post-conviction criminal sentencing constitutes a “final judgment” that not only triggered the fraud exclusion in a D&O insurance policy but also required the convicted individual to reimburse the carrier for amounts it had already paid – even though the individual’s appeal of his criminal conviction was pending.

As discussed below, the court’s opinion has some important lessons for D&O insurance practitioners. A copy of the court’s opinion can be found here.
Continue Reading D&O Insurance: A “Final” Analysis

third circuitThe traditional Insured vs. Insured exclusion found in many D&O insurance policies is a frequent source of claims disputes, particularly in the bankruptcy context. As its name suggests, the Insured vs. Insured exclusion precludes coverage for claims brought by one Insured against another Insured. The typical Insured vs. Insured exclusion includes a provision (often

fourthcircuitIt sometimes comes as a surprise to some policyholders that D&O carriers contend that they have the right to try to recover amounts they have paid as defense expenses if it turns out that coverage for a claim is precluded by a policy exclusion. However, an insurer’s right of defense expense recoupment is by now

aus3An exclusion sometimes found in D&O insurance policies precludes coverage for claims made by shareholders who have a specified percentage of ownership in the insured company. This type of exclusion is called a Major Shareholder Exclusion (or, sometimes, the Principal Shareholder Exclusion). An interesting May 6, 2015 decision (here) by the Supreme Court