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.
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In a January 23, 2018 unpublished decision (here), the Eleventh Circuit held that a D&O insurance policy’s prior acts exclusion does not preclude coverage where the subsequent claim against insured persons is “independent” from the alleged wrongful acts that occurred prior to the policy period. The appellate court’s opinion, in which it affirmed a district court’s ruling rejecting a D&O insurer’s argument that the exclusion precluded coverage for the FDIC’s claim against the former directors and officers of a failed bank, underscores the necessity for a link between the prior wrongful acts and the subsequent claim in order for the exclusion to preclude coverage for the claim. The Carlton Fields law firm’s February 26, 2018 memo about the decision can be found here.
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