A New York federal court recently held that an insurance company was entitled to recoup legal fees paid under a directors and officers liability policy in defense of a criminal action against an ex-CEO who was convicted of bribery. On a motion for reconsideration, the court affirmed its earlier ruling that the CEO’s conduct fell within the policy’s “Dishonest and Willful Acts Exclusion,” reasoning that the criminal case had been finally adjudicated despite a pending appeal. Because there was no coverage, the insurer could seek repayment of all defense costs it had paid to date. Not only is the court’s recoupment decision potentially inconsistent with New York law, but it also raises thorny questions regarding just when a judgment is “final” for the purpose of triggering D&O policy exclusions.
In T.D. Williamson, Inc. v. Federal Ins. Co., the Tenth Circuit recently affirmed a lower court’s decision that an insurer did not have a duty to defend or indemnify its insured, a pipeline company, against a former director’s lawsuit. 21-5043, 2022 WL 1112530, at *1 (10th Cir. Apr. 14, 2022). According to the appellate court, the policy’s “insured vs. insured” exclusion barred coverage. This exclusion is common in D&O policies. The exclusion generally eliminates coverage for claims by or on behalf of one insured against another insured. For instance, the exclusion may bar coverage for claims by a company against one of its executives or by former or current executives against other executives of the same company. There are various versions of the exclusion, but they usually contain exceptions, which provide for coverage in specific situations. These exceptions are frequently the subject of coverage disputes.
Continue Reading Executive Protection Under D&O Policies and the Insured vs. Insured Exclusion