The City of Baltimore is the latest victim of increasingly common ransomware attacks. On May 7, 2019, unidentified hackers infiltrated Baltimore’s computer system using a cyber-tool named EternalBlue, developed originally by the United States National Security Agency to identify vulnerabilities in computer systems. However, the NSA lost control of EternalBlue, and since 2017, cybercriminals have used it to infiltrate computer systems and demand payment in exchange for relinquishing control. For instance, in Baltimore, the hackers have frozen the City’s e-mail system and disrupted real estate transactions and utility billing systems, among many other things. The hackers reportedly demanded roughly $100,000 in Bitcoin to restore Baltimore’s system. The city has refused to pay.

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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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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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In football as in life, the best defense is often a good offense. But, that adage does not always play well in litigation. In Riddell, Inc. v. Superior Court, No. B275482, 2017 WL 3614305 (Cal. Ct. App. Aug. 23, 2017), the California Court of Appeal blew the whistle on such a tactic, holding that an insurer could not use discovery tools in a coverage dispute with its policyholder in order to prejudice the policyholder’s defense in an underlying lawsuit.

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A federal judge has ordered an insurer to show cause why he should refrain from dismissing the insurer’s case against an NCAA football conference over the availability of insurance for concussion-related lawsuits. Back in May, Great American Assurance Company filed a complaint against Conference USA, seeking a declaration that it need not defend or indemnify the conference against a lawsuit brought by a former football player. In the underlying lawsuit, the former player alleged that he suffered neurodegenerative disorders and diseases, including chronic traumatic encephalopathy (“CTE”), Alzheimer’s disease, memory loss, mood swings, headaches, and anxiety stemming from repeated concussive brain impacts he sustained while playing for the University of Louisville. In the coverage action, Great American argues that a Limited Event Coverage endorsement added to Conference USA’s policies did not include football as a covered event and therefore the policies do not provide coverage for “bodily injury” arising from football.

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The United Kingdom’s recent vote to sever ties with the European Union will have global economic consequences. The ramifications of an EU economic retraction resulting from financial uncertainty will undoubtedly reach Latin America.  The cross-border insurance industry will likely not be spared.  Multinationals with local operations must be proactive to get ahead of the storm – now is the time to review the unique aspects of their business and their target markets to pinpoint their ideal risk management structure, and to ensure that their insurance regimes sufficiently anticipate the shifting risks in this dynamic bloc.

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Globalization has inspired the development of cross-border business activities, as companies across several industries seek new markets for their goods and services.  The dynamic rewards have been accompanied by a corresponding increase in novel risks, and those who rely on traditional risk assessment mechanisms have often been left unnecessarily exposed.
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