It is a standard D&O insurance policy feature that if two claims are “related” within the meaning of the policy then they are “deemed” a single claim first made at the time of the earlier claim. However, in a recent coverage dispute, a Delaware court held, in reliance on policy language the court found to be clear and unambiguous, that two related claims were deemed first made not at the time the earlier claim but rather during the policy period of the policy in force at the time the later claim was made. Confused? Read on!
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
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
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
A recent summary judgment ruling in a D&O insurance coverage lawsuit in the District of Connecticut addressed several potentially preclusive coverage issues. In her February 28, 2017 opinion (here), Judge Vanessa Bryant, applying Connecticut law, ultimately held that coverage for the underlying claim was precluded due to the insured’s late provision of notice of claim, a conclusion that under the facts presented arguably is unremarkable. What makes Judge Bryant’s opinion interesting is not her ruling on the notice of claim issue, but rather her analysis of other issues, particularly her conclusion that the “related claim” and “prior or pending litigation” exclusions did not preclude coverage. The facts involved present other seemingly critical issues that Judge Bryant’s decision does not address.
Continue Reading D&O Insurance: Prior and Pending Litigation Exclusion Doesn’t Preclude Coverage, Late Notice Does
In 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
In an interesting September 30, 2015 opinion, Southern District of California Cynthia Bashant, applying California law, held that a series of HIPAA-related subpoenas that the U.S. Department of Justice served on Millennium Laboratories were not interrelated with prior qui tam lawsuits that had been filed against the company, and held further that coverage under Millennium’s D&O insurance policy for the company’s costs of responding to the subpoenas was not limited by the policy’s $100,000 sublimit for Regulatory Claims. A copy of Judge Bashant’s opinion can be found here.
Continue Reading D&O Insurance: HIPAA Supoenas, Interrelatedness, and Regulatory Claim Sublimits
Of all the questions surrounding liability insurance, the one issue that seemingly ought to be most obvious is the amount of insurance potentially available to respond to claims. Indeed, the question of the amount of insurance potentially available for a single claim usually is relatively straightforward and usually is answered by reference to the limit…