Private equity investors face unique challenges when procuring or renewing their liability insurance programs. For example, investors typically must complete lengthy applications or sign warranty and representation letters from their prospective insurers that inquire into knowledge by any potential insured as to any acts or omissions that could potentially give rise to a claim. These overbroad and often vague inquiries are problematic for private equity investors who would theoretically have to interview every employee, manager, or director at every subsidiary, fund, and portfolio company (if insureds) to discern whether any person has knowledge of such an act or omission. My colleagues Syed Ahmad and Andrea DeField recently authored an article appearing in the Bloomberg Law Securities Regulation & Law Report™ in which they address this issue and others as part of their Top 5 Coverage Issues Private Equity Investors Should Consider. The full article is available here.
Many commentators have predicted that the use of blockchain technology will greatly expand in the coming years. They envision uses in all types of business, including the healthcare sector, financial services arena, and supply chains.
Beginning last Friday, and still occurring today, one of the worst and most widespread malware attacks has impacted more than 200,000 victims in at least 150 countries, including Britain’s National Health Service, FedEx, telecommunications companies Telefonica and Megafon, and automakers Renault and Nissan. The malware, known as “WannaCry,” disables the user’s computer system and all of its data. A note in a text file then appears stating that in order to unlock the computer, $300 worth of the digital currency bitcoin must be paid to the hackers. A countdown timer appears and the fee increases with time. The hackers threaten to delete all data on the computer system if payment is not sent within one week. Cybersecurity experts believe that the malware was sent to computers through “phishing attacks,” which are emails that appear to be from reputable sources and include a download to a link that allows the malware to infect the computer. From these computers, the malware then spread to other computers on the network. One infected computer can spread this virus network-wide, and quickly.
Hunton & Williams’ Insurance Coverage lawyers Syed Ahmad, Andrea DeField and Jennifer White were featured in the Firm’s Recall Roundup, where they discuss recent noteworthy decisions on insurance coverage for product recalls:
The interplay between primary and excess insurance is often litigated, especially in the context of settlements. On April 26, 2017, the First Circuit in Salvati v. Am. Ins. Co., 16-1403, 2017 WL 1488238, at *1 (1st Cir. Apr. 26, 2017) considered whether the settlement agreement entered into between plaintiff and the insureds/primary insurer was sufficient to trigger excess insurance coverage under the insured’s policy with American Insurance Company.
Bear Stearns’ insurers were recently dealt a fatal blow, when the trial court granted Bear Stearns’ motion for summary judgment and denied all insurers’ motions (and defenses). See J.P. Morgan Sec. Inc. v. Vigilant Ins. Co., 2017 N.Y. Slip Op. 27127, 11 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2017). The court found that the documentary and testamentary evidence presented by Bear Sterns overwhelmingly demonstrated that Bear Stearns’ misconduct profited their customers instead of resulting in Bear Stearns’ own “ill-gotten gains.” The court also found the settlement amounts reached by Bear Stearns in the SEC action and the private civil suits to be reasonable.
“Before the Court is, once again, the classic case of the insurer requesting relief from the consequences of the inartfully drafted, yet plain, terms of its insurance policy.” So begins the Eleventh Circuit’s recent opinion in Liberty Surplus Ins. Corp. v. Norfolk Southern Railway Co., No. 16-14767, 2017 WL 1228550 (11th Cir. April 4, 2017), where the court held that the unambiguous language of Liberty’s “Completed Work” exclusion did not bar coverage for injuries sustained by a motorist injured at a railroad crossing who later sued Norfolk Southern.
Hunton & Williams insurance partner Syed Ahmad was recently quoted in Law360 regarding a recent trend in judicial decisions favoring policyholders. Ahmad addresses an apparent trend by courts to refuse to allow technical violations to void coverage under complex insurance policies. A link to the Law360 article containing Ahmad’s comments can be found at 5 Insurance Rulings You May Have Missed In The 1st Quarter.
Attorneys Syed Ahmad and Jennifer White contributed to the Hunton Retail Law Resource’s “Recall Roundup” for the month of March with a discussion a new cases in the world of recall-related insurance coverage litigation, including a new case filed by a policyholder against its insurance broker alleging that the broker was liable for misrepresentations in the electronic application that led the insurer to rescind coverage. Check out the blog post here.