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.
In MF Global Holdings Ltd. et al. v. Allied World Assurance Co. Ltd. et al., No. 1:16-ap-01251 (Bankr. S.D.N.Y. Aug. 24, 2017), the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York ordered MF Global Holdings Ltd. and Allied World Assurance Co. Ltd. to arbitrate their $15 million errors-and-omissions coverage dispute in Hamilton, Bermuda. MF Global initiated an adversary proceeding against Allied World in the bankruptcy court after Allied World had refused to pay MF Global for amounts that MF Global returned to its customers’ accounts as part of a settlement of claims against MF Global’s former managers and directors. Allied World denied coverage under its “Bermuda Form” errors-and-omissions policy, claiming that this procedure was tantamount to deposit insurance, and not professional liability insurance, which is what errors-and-omissions coverage typically provides. Continue Reading Court Order Sending Coverage Dispute To Arbitration Overseas Demonstrates The Potential Consequences Of Purchasing “Bermuda Form” And Other International Coverages
A case decided last week by the Sixth Circuit illustrates the importance of seeking bankruptcy claim policy amendments when placing D&O coverage. Indian Harbor Ins. Co. v. Zucker (6th Cir. Jun. 20, 2017) involved the application of the insured-vs.-insured exclusion and specifically, whether the policy’s insured-vs.-insured exclusion precluded coverage for a claim brought by a company’s liquidating trust, to which the company’s claims had been assigned by the company as debtor-in-possession after the company filed for bankruptcy. After the company’s claims were assigned to the liquidating trust, the trustee sued several of the company’s former executives for breach of fiduciary duty. Continue Reading Sixth Circuit Rules That Insured-vs.-Insured Exclusion Bars Coverage for Liquidation Trustee’s Claim
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.
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.
On December 6, 2016, a Connecticut appellate court held that a contract exclusion in a public entity errors and omissions liability insurance policy did not relieve the insurer’s duty to defend when there was at least a possibility of coverage based on the allegations against the insured. The court reasoned that the fact finder could determine that the underlying negligent misrepresentation claim may not have arisen out of contract, thereby putting the claim beyond the scope of the policy’s contract exclusion. For a more detailed analysis of the Town of Monroe v. Discover Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co. decision, see our most recent client alert which can be found here.
An article by Hunton lawyers Walter Andrews and Mike Levine, titled Insurance Planning for 2016: Top Ten Real Estate Liability Concerns, was recently published in the Spring 2016 issue of The Real Estate Finance Journal. The article addresses ten recurring liability concerns facing real estate professionals, investors, developers, lenders, owners and managers, and the associated insurance issues. The article addresses ways commercial insurance can be used to mitigate potential liability for those involved in complex real estate transactions. Andrews and Levine, along with the other members of Hunton’s insurance team, counsel and represent the interests of real estate professionals and other commercial policyholders concerning their insurance programs and the availability of insurance coverage.
Last week, two blind customers sued Sweetgreen, a D.C.-based salad chain, alleging violations of Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) and sections of New York’s Human Rights statute. In the Complaint, the customers claim that Sweetgreen’s online ordering system “prevents blind customers from customizing and placing their orders in the same way as sighted customers can.” Title III prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability at “places of public accommodations,” like restaurants, movie theaters, schools, and recreation facilities. Courts are split about whether “places of public accommodation” are limited to actual physical structures or include websites that are part of an integrated merchandising effort. The tide is pressing toward the broader reading of the statute, emboldened in part by the Department of Justice’s long-awaited website accessibility regulations (now set to be published in fiscal year 2018).
On March 18, 2016, a Florida jury awarded Hulk Hogan (real name Terry Bollea) $115 million in damages in his lawsuit against Gawker.com. Mr. Bollea sued Gawker in Florida state court after it published portions of a video showing him having sex with the wife of a former friend, Todd Clem (a DJ better known as Bubba the Love Sponge). Mr. Bollea claimed he did not know he was being filmed and sought $100 million. He claimed, among other things, that his “goodwill, commercial value, and brand [were] substantially harmed” and that he suffered emotional distress by the posting. Following trial, the jury deliberated for six hours and awarded more than the amount sought: $55 million for economic harm and $60 million for emotional distress. On March 21, 2016, the jury awarded an additional $25 million in punitive damages.
On Monday, a Tennessee jury awarded $55 million to FOX sportscaster Erin Andrews in her suit against Michael Barrett, her stalker, and the Marriott hotel where they both stayed. In 2008, Mr. Barrett secretly videotaped Ms. Andrews through a peephole as she changed clothes in her hotel room. Hotel staff had revealed that she was staying at the hotel and, upon Mr. Barrett’s request, gave him a room next to hers. Mr. Barrett’s surreptitious video of Ms. Andrews was later made public. Ms. Andrews sued Mr. Barrett, West End Hotel Partners, LLC (the owner/franchisee of the hotel) and Windsor Capital Group, Inc. (the operator of the hotel) for negligence, invasion of privacy, and infliction of emotional distress causing embarrassment. The jury found the hotel’s owner and operator 49% at fault, comprising approximately $27 million of the total verdict.