Bryan W. Petrilla

On March 16, 2022, the Delaware Supreme Court issued an important decision on the “relatedness” issue in the First Solar case, as I discussed in a prior post on this site, here. In the following guest post, Bryan W. Petrilla, Esq., a partner in the Stewart Smith law firm in Philadelphia, takes a look at the First Solar decision and considers its implication. I would like to thank Bryan for allowing me to publish his 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. Here is Bryan’s article.
Continue Reading Guest Post: Must Claims be “Fundamentally Identical” to be “Related”? The Delaware Supreme Court Weighs In  

In a June 23, 2021 opinion (here), a Delaware Superior Court Judge held that a subsequent opt-out action is interrelated with the prior securities class action lawsuit; that the opt-out action claim is deemed made at the time of class action suit’s filing; and therefore that the D&O insurers whose policies were in force at the time the opt-out action was filed do not have coverage for the opt-out action. The court’s conclusion that an opt-out action is interrelated with the underlying class action lawsuit arguably is unremarkable, but, as discussed below, there are features of this dispute and of the court’s ruling that make the court’s decision noteworthy.
Continue Reading Opt-Out Action Held Interrelated with Underlying Securities Class Action Suit

As the policy definition of the term “Claim” has expanded in recent years, the range of incidents and procedures for which the policyholder must provide notice to the insurer has also grown. Among the recent expansions has been the inclusion in many policies of a “subpoena” within the meaning of the term “Claim.” As a result, a policyholder’s failure to notify its insurer of a “subpoena” could imperil coverage for a later related lawsuit. However, as a federal district court recently held, applying New York law, the notice requirement is not triggered if the prior “subpoena” does not meet the professional liability insurance policy’s definition of  the term “claim,” and, the court further held that the failure to notify the insurer of the subpoena did not preclude coverage for a later suit. The court’s decision sheds interesting light on a number of frequently recurring coverage issues.
Continue Reading Not Providing Notice of Subpoena That Wasn’t a Claim Doesn’t Bar Coverage for Later Lawsuit

In numerous prior posts, I have meditated on the meaning of “relatedness” and what it takes to make two claims sufficiently similar that they should be treated as the same claim. That was the question that a Pennsylvania federal district court addressed in a recent decision in an insurance coverage dispute. As discussed below, on January 27, 2020, Eastern District of Pennsylvania Judge Timothy J. Savage, applying Pennsylvania law, concluded that, despite overlaps, a subsequent shareholder derivative suit was not sufficiently related to another shareholder’s prior demand letter and lawsuit to preclude coverage for the later claim. The court’s decision provides abundant grounds for further ruminations on the meaning of relatedness.
Continue Reading Despite Factual Overlap, Later Claim Unrelated to Prior Demand and Suit

In a recent decision, the Delaware Superior Court, applying Delaware law, held that two of Pfizer’s excess D&O insurers are on the hook for their portion of costs the company incurred in defending and settling a securities class action lawsuit, despite the excess insurers’ arguments that the claim was interrelated with an earlier securities suit and that coverage was therefore precluded under their policies’ Specific Litigation Exclusion. The critical determinant in the court’s ruling may have been its decision that Delaware law governed the coverage dispute, but there are still a number of interesting elements about issue of claims relatedness. The Delaware Superior Court’s July 23, 2019 decision can be found here.
Continue Reading D&O Insurance: Specific Litigation Exclusion Does Not Preclude Coverage for Subsequent Securities Suit

I have frequently written on this blog about relatedness issues and how they affect the availability of D&O insurance coverage for a series of lawsuits that have been filed over time against a company. D&O insurers frequently argue, in order to try to avoid coverage,  that a later lawsuit is related to an earlier proceeding in order to try to argue that the subsequent suit is deemed made at the time of the earlier proceeding. In an interesting case in the Southern District of Texas, the insurer took the opposite position and tried to argue that two securities class action lawsuit complaints filed after the end of the policy period were unrelated to an earlier securities suit that had been filed during the policy period, in order to try to avoid coverage for the subsequent lawsuits.

In an October 4, 2018 decision (here), Magistrate Judge Nancy K. Johnson ruled that the later securities lawsuits filed against Nobilis Health were interrelated with the earlier lawsuit against the company, and therefore that the insurer was obligated to cover the costs the insured company incurred in defending all three lawsuits. The court’s decision underscores the breadth of the relatedness in D&O insurance policies and highlights the fact that relatedness issues can, depending on the circumstances, result in a coverage expansion and not only a narrowing of coverage.
Continue Reading D&O Insurance: Insurer Must Defend Later Securities Lawsuits Related to Earlier Claim

Maurice Pesso
Greg Steinberg

As I have frequently noted on this blog (for example, here), problems involving relatedness between claims present recurring coverage issues under D&O insurance policies. In the following guest post, Maurice Pesso and Greg M. Steinberg of the White and Williams LLP law firm take a look at a recent decision out of the Northern District of Illinois applying New York law to a D&O insurance dispute involving related claims issues. I would like to thank Maurice and Greg for their willingness to allow me to publish their article 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 Maurice and Greg’s guest post.
Continue Reading Guest Post: Another Court Applies New York’s “Sufficient Factual Nexus” Test to Related Claims

floridaIn a June 6, 2016 opinion (here), Middle District of Florida Judge Sheri Polster Chappell, applying Florida law, held that subsequent claims filed in 2011 and 2012 were interrelated with claims first made in 2008, and therefore deemed made at the time of the initial claim. Because the initial claim was filed before the relevant policy incepted, there is, Judge Chappell concluded, no coverage for the claims under the relevant policy.

In reaching these conclusions, Judge Chappell rejected the policyholder’s argument that the policy’s related claim provision conflicted with the policy’s prior and pending litigation provision (which had a May 2003 date), and therefore should be construed against the insurer and disregarded in light of the prior and pending litigation date. Judge Chappell’s opinion quite sensibly and correctly rejects arguments that other courts (applying different jurisdiction’s law) have accepted, as discussed below. A July 22, 2016 post on the Wiley Rein law firm’s Executive Summary Blog about Judge Chappell’s opinion can be found here.
Continue Reading D&O Insurance: Prior and Pending Litigation Provisions Do Not Undercut Interrelated Claims Provision

Fourth CircuitIn a December 30, 2015 unpublished per curiam opinion, the Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court’s holding that a 2010 lawsuit filed to enforce a judgment was interrelated with the 2006 lawsuit in which the judgment had been entered, and therefore because the later was deemed first made at the time of the earlier lawsuit, the later suit was not covered under the management liability insurance policy in force when the later lawsuit was filed. The Fourth Circuit’s analysis is interesting in light of other recent appellate case law decisions interpreting D&O insurance policy’s interrelatedness provisions. A copy of the Fourth Circuit’s opinion can be found here.
Continue Reading D&O Insurance: Subsequent Claim Interrelated With Prior Lawsuit Not Covered Under Policy in Force at Time of Later Claim

lawboks2When I started out as a law firm associate doing D&O insurance coverage work more than three decades ago, there was virtually no interpretive case law available. Legal research in connection with D&O insurance tended to be a meagre, frustrating process. Things have changed so much in the interim that now we can have two appellate decisions from two different federal circuit courts on D&O insurance issues in just a single day. On October 21, 2015, both the Second and Fifth Circuits issued D&O insurance coverage rulings, in both cases finding that the there was no coverage under the D&O insurance policies involved for the matters in dispute.

The Second Circuit’s October 21, 2015 summary order in Nomura Holding America, Inc. v. Federal Insurance Company can be found here. The Fifth Circuit’s October 21, 2015 opinion in Martin Resource Management Corporation v. Axis Insurance Company can be found here. I discuss the two appellate decisions below.
Continue Reading D&O Insurance: Two Federal Appellate Courts Issue Rulings Confirming Carriers’ Coverage Denials