The May 13, 2019 decision by the US Supreme Court in Apple, Inc. v. Pepper has brought antitrust concerns, and the insurance issues they raise, front and center.  While Apple, Inc., of course, is a publicly traded company, private companies can also fall victim to these issues and need to look to coverage for protection. 

The Delaware Superior Court ruled that insurers could not rely on Written Consent and Cooperation clauses in directors and officers liability insurance policies to avoid coverage for settlements by Dole Food Company, Inc. (“Dole”) in shareholder disputes involving fraud in a go-private transaction.

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Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP partner Lorie Masters, partnering with insurance broker Marsh and others, analyzed the often complex issues raised by the insurance coverage actions posed by actions alleging violations of antitrust laws.  “Optimizing Antitrust Coverage in Private Company D&O Policies,” published by Marsh in Insights.  Investigations invoking antitrust laws raise the prospect of

May 25, 2018 should be a day circled on many company calendars. On that day, the European Union’s long-awaited Global Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”) will go into effect.  It is crucial for U.S. companies to prepare for the GDPR, as they, too, will be required to comply with a new set of data privacy rules if they are handling data from EU-based customers, suppliers, or affiliates. As long as you collect personal or behavioral data from someone in the EU, you must comply with the GDPR.

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In an article recently featured on The D&O Diary, Hunton & Williams insurance lawyers Syed Ahmad, Brittany Davidson, and Andrea DeField discuss a recent New York trial court’s award of an injunction requiring D&O insurers to advance defense costs to their insured pending resolution of the underlying lawsuits. The full article can be found here

Hunton & Williams insurance partner, Syed Ahmad, was quoted twice in Law360 concerning significant insurance cases to watch in 2018.  On January 1, 2018, Ahmad noted that Pitzer College v. Indian Harbor Insurance Co., pending in the California Supreme Court, “can be significant for coverage disputes in California because the California rule could override the law of the state that would apply otherwise, even if the parties agreed to another state’s law governing,”  On January 9, 2018,  Ahmad was again asked by Law360 to comment on key D&O cases that will likely be decided in 2018.  Ahmad noted that in Patriarch Partners LLC v. Axis Insurance Co., pending in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, Patriarch’s appeal presents an unusual situation in which a policyholder is arguing that various developments in an ongoing SEC investigation don’t constitute a claim under a D&O policy, in order to avoid the application of an exclusion.  In other circumstances, it may be favorable for a policyholder to assert that a preliminary step in an SEC probe is a claim, so as to maximize coverage.   According to Ahmad, the district court didn’t fully address how, in the context of the specific policy language at issue, a non-public order by the SEC could qualify as a claim.   “As Patriarch argues, ‘until an agency makes a demand upon the target under legal compulsion, there may be no way for a policyholder to even know that it is being investigated, that an order authorizing investigation has been issued against it or what the order of investigation says,’” Ahmad said, quoting from Patriarch’s appellate brief.

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In an article published in Law360, Hunton & Williams LLP partners Walter Andrews, Malcolm Weiss, and I discuss two recent decisions in Tree Top Inc. v. Starr Indem. & Liab. Co., No. 1:15-CV-03155-SMJ, 2017 WL 5664718 (E.D. Wash. Nov. 21, 2017).  There, the Eastern District of Washington rejected an insurer’s attempt to escape insurance coverage for a Proposition 65 lawsuit filed against juice-maker Tree Top Inc.

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Corporate policyholders should carefully consider insurance coverage implications when structuring mergers, acquisitions, or other transactions that may impact available insurance assets. A New Jersey federal court recently granted summary judgment for a surviving bank asserting coverage rights under a D&O policy issued to an entity that dissolved in a statutory merger, based in part on the wording of the parties’ merger agreement structuring the transaction in accordance with the New Jersey Business Corporation Act (“NJBCA”).
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Does the term “wrongful act” always require that the conduct at issue be “wrongful”? In at least one D&O insurance policy, the answer may not be as clear as it seems. A federal district court in Texas recently denied an insurer’s motion to dismiss a company’s coverage claim for nearly $5 million in costs the company incurred defending a statutory appraisal lawsuit filed by disgruntled shareholders, citing the D&O policy’s “terribly” written definition of “wrongful act,” which may have been written so broadly that it provides coverage for “acts” that are not actually “wrongful.”
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