Most public company D&O insurance policies provide coverage for the corporate entity only for “Securities Claims.” But what constitutes a “Securities Claim”? That is the question the Delaware Supreme Court addressed in a recent appeal of an insurance coverage dispute in which a bankruptcy trustee had sued Verizon for breach of fiduciary duty, unlawful payment of a dividend, and violation of the uniform fraudulent transfer act. The trial court had entered summary judgment for Verizon, ruling that the bankruptcy trustee’s claims represented “Securities Claims” within the meaning of the policy. In an October 31, 2019 decision (here), the Delaware Supreme Court reversed the lower court, ruling that the bankruptcy trustee’s claims were not Securities Claims within the meaning of the policy. As discussed below, the decision raises some interesting issues.
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delawarePublic company D&O insurance policies typically provide coverage for the corporate entity only for “Securities Claims.” A recent case in the Delaware Superior Court involved the question of whether a bankruptcy trustee’s claim related to Verizon’s multi-billion dollar spinoff of its electronic directories business was a “Securities Claim.” In an interesting and detailed opinion dated March 2, 2017 and released March 15, 2017 (here), Judge William C. Carpenter, Jr. ruled that the bankruptcy trustee’s claim was a “Securities Claim” within the meaning of the Verizon’s D&O insurance policy and therefore that Verizon’s insurers were liable of the costs incurred in defending against the trustee’s claim. The opinion makes for interesting reading for anyone interested in how these kinds of disputes can arise, and also has some important practical lessons.  
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Ninth Circuit bitmapPublic company D&O insurance provides coverage for “Securities Claims.” But whose securities must be involved in a claim in order for coverage to be triggered? Must the claim involve the securities of the corporate policyholder itself? Or can coverage be triggered by a claim involving mortgage-backed securities the corporate policyholder issued as part of its financial operations?
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The modern public company D&O insurance policy provides coverage not only for the directors and officers of the company but also for the company itself – however, in the public company D&O insurance policy, the entity coverage applies only to securities claims, a limitation that sometimes leads to disputes whether or not a particular matter