One of the hotly contested issues in recent years has been whether or not there is D&O insurance coverage for shareholder appraisal actions. In a recent decision that was largely focused on choice of law issues, the Delaware Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s dismissal of a policyholder’s action to try to obtain coverage for defense costs incurred in an underlying shareholder appraisal action. Though the insurers prevailed in this coverage dispute, the Court’s holding on the choice of law issues could have ominous implications for insurers’ prospects in future coverage disputes, as discussed below. The Delaware Supreme Court’s January 10, 2023, opinion in the Stillwater Mining Company coverage dispute can be found here.
Readers of this blog will be interested to know that in a recent D&O insurance coverage dispute, the Delaware Superior Court actually handed the D&O insurers a win — a rare development indeed in Delaware’s courts. However, the D&O insurers won by successfully arguing that Delaware law governed the insurance dispute; the ultimate outcome may have been due in part to the fact that the losing policyholder was in the uncomfortable position of trying to argue that another jurisdiction’s law controlled after all after having first argued that Delaware law applied. There are a lot of twists and turns to this case, but, as discussed below, the outcome of this case arguably is far from reassuring to D&O insurers, even though the insurers prevailed in this case.
Continue Reading Rare D&O Insurer Win in Delaware Court, But Should D&O Insurers Celebrate?
It is not uncommon for coverage disputes to arise in connection with D&O insurance claims, but every now and then there is a coverage dispute so broad that it constitutes a veritable D&O insurance coverage curriculum. That was certainly the case in what a Delaware Superior Court judge called the “sprawling insurance coverage dispute” between a unit of Northrup Grumman and its predecessors-in-interest’s D&O insurers. The coverage dispute arose out of underlying claims relating to the 2015 merger of Alliant Techsystems, Inc and Orbital Sciences Corporation to form Orbital ATK, Inc. The court’s lengthy opinion on the parties’ cross-motions for summary judgment and for judgment on the pleadings covers a wide variety of recurring D&O insurance coverage issues and makes for interesting reading for anyone involved with D&O insurance. The Delaware Superior Court’s February 2, 2021 opinion in the Northrup Grumman case can be found here.
Continue Reading Delaware Court Addresses “Sprawling” Northrup Grumman D&O Insurance Coverage Dispute