We recently posted about Nevada becoming the first state to prohibit defense-within-limits provisions in liability insurance policies. Defense-within-limits provisions—resulting in what is called “eroding” or “wasting” policies—reduce the policy’s applicable limit of insurance by amounts the insurer pays to defend the policyholder against a claim or suit. Continue Reading Nevada’s Changing Liability Insurance Landscape—State Insurance Regulator Issues Emergency Regulation and Guidance Addressing Controversial “Defense-Within-Limits” Legislation
Whether an insurer has a right to reimburse defense costs after a finding that it has no duty to defend remains an open question in Georgia. However, in Continental Casualty Co., et al. v. Winder Laboratories, LLC, et al., Case No. 21-11758 (11th Cir. Jul. 13, 2023), the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals has weighed in with its prediction on the likely answer. Persuaded by the logic of other jurisdictions that, “wide-ranging reimbursement is necessarily inappropriate in a system—like Georgia’s—that is predicated on a broad duty to defend and a more limited duty to indemnify,” the Eleventh Circuit predicted that, “the Supreme Court of Georgia would follow that logic to adopt a ‘no recoupment’ rule to protect its insurance system.” Continue Reading Eleventh Circuit Rejects Implicit Right to Reimbursement of Defense Costs Under Georgia Law
Nevada recently became the first state to prohibit defense-within-limits provisions in liability insurance policies. Defense-within-limits provisions—resulting in what’s called “eroding” or “wasting” policies—reduce the policy’s applicable limit of insurance by amounts the insurer pays to defend the policyholder against a claim or suit. These provisions are commonly included in errors and omissions (E&O), directors and officers (D&O) and other management liability policies. This is in contrast to other policies, most commonly commercial general liability policies, which provide defense “outside of limits” where defense costs do not reduce the policy’s limit. Continue Reading An Uncharted Frontier: Nevada First State to Prohibit Defense-Within-Limits Provisions
On April 11, 2023, Maryland Governor Wes Moore signed into law the Child Victims Act of 2023, allowing Maryland to join the growing number of states to rejuvenate previously time-barred lawsuits by victims of child sexual abuse against public school boards, government entities and private institutions. The Act also increases the statutory cap on civil damages for child sexual abuse—damages against public school boards and government entities are capped at $890,000 per incident, while per-incident damages against private institutions, including independent schools, are capped at $1.5 million. Maryland follows other states, like California and New York, which paved a path for abuse victims to bring previously time-barred claims based on alleged abuse that occurred decades earlier. Maryland is the first state, however, to pass this type of statute with a lookback period of infinite duration—meaning there is no limit for how long ago the alleged abuse occurred, and the statutes of limitation for lawsuits based on future acts of abuse are eliminated. Other states, such as New York and New Jersey, created limited lookback periods (one or two years), during which survivors were able to file previously time-barred claims. Continue Reading Rejuvenation of Abuse Claims Sparks a Need to Evaluate Historical Liability Coverage
The Delaware Chancery Court recently held that the duty of oversight extended to corporate officers. The important decision came after McDonald’s shareholders sued the company’s former head of human resources, alleging that the officer breached his duty of oversight by “allowing a corporate culture to develop that condoned sexual harassment and misconduct.” In that same decision, Vice Chancellor Laster also determined that acts of sexual harassment can constitute a breach of fiduciary duty. Officers are rightly focused on the potential ramifications on their personal liability following the ruling. But that potential increased exposure also raises several insurance implications for companies to consider while procuring and renewing directors and officers insurance coverage.Continue Reading Increased Risks, D&O Insurance Considerations, Following Delaware’s Extended Oversight Duties
One of the most valuable aspects of liability insurance is defense coverage, which protects policyholders from significant costs to defend against and litigate claims that may never result in a judgment or settlement. Companies and their directors and officers can incur thousands or even millions of dollars in defending against claims that are resolved long before trial. Even after purchasing robust defense coverage and getting an insurer to defend a claim, however, companies may be surprised when months or even years later the insurer reverses its position and not only withdraws from the defense but also demands repayment of all defense costs paid to date. A recent case, Evanston Insurance Co. v. Winstar Properties, Inc. No. 218CV07740RGKKES, 2022 WL 1309843 (C.D. Cal. Apr. 14, 2022), shows the perils of insurer “recoupment” and underscores the importance of assessing insurer recoupment rights, if any, throughout the claims process.
Continue Reading It’s Payback Time: California Ruling Highlights Recoupment Risks in Liability Claims
From event-driven litigation and event cancellations to securities claims and regulatory enforcement actions, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a number of directors and officers liability exposures extending far beyond business interruption losses. The first wave of COVID-19 securities suits, for example, focused on allegations that companies made false and misleading statements or failed to disclose in securities filings how they responded to the pandemic (in the case of several cruise lines) or stood to benefit from it (in the case of pharmaceutical companies). Most, but not all, of those suits were dismissed on early motions. In all cases, however, those companies and individuals would have benefited from robust D&O liability insurance coverage.
Continue Reading New Year, New COVID-19 Securities Claims Present Continued D&O Exposures
In a prior post, we predicted that novel coronavirus (COVID-19) risks could implicate D&O and similar management liability coverage arising from so-called “event-driven” litigation, a new kind of securities class action that relies on specific adverse events, rather than fraudulent financial disclosures or accounting issues, as the catalyst for targeting both companies and their directors and officers for the resulting drop in stock price. It appears that ship has sailed, so to speak, as Kevin LaCroix at D&O Diary reported over the weekend that a plaintiff shareholder had filed a securities class action lawsuit against Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, Ltd. alleging that the company employed misleading sales tactics related to the outbreak.
Continue Reading All Aboard! COVID-19 Securities Suit Sets Sail, Implicates D&O Insurance
In a recent decision, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals reiterated that the duty to defend broadly requires a liability insurer to defend an entire lawsuit against its insured, even where only some of the allegations are potentially covered. The court further held that the insured has no obligation to apportion defense costs among multiple implicated policies. The decision, Selective Way Insurance Company v. Nationwide Property and Casualty Insurance Company, et al., can be found here.
Continue Reading Duty to Defend Broadly Applies to Entire Action; Insured Need Not Apportion Defense Costs, Says Maryland Appeals Court
Real estate investment trust VERIET, Inc. (formerly known as American Realty Capital Properties) announced this week that it agreed to a $765.5 million settlement to resolve shareholder class action and related lawsuits arising from a host of alleged securities violations and accounting fraud at ARCP since the company went public in 2011. Defendants in the class action settlement have agreed to pay more than $1 billion in compensation, including millions from ARCP’s former manager and principals, chief financial officer, and former auditor.
Continue Reading Newest REIT Settlement and Ongoing Disputes Pose Potential D&O Coverage Issues