Larger Settlement Rule

As discussed in a recent client alert, a Delaware court issued a significant opinion in a directors and officers liability claim involving a special purpose acquisition company. In an issue of first impression in Delaware, the Superior Court in Clover Health Investments Corp. v. Berkley Insurance Co. held that directors and officers of the post-merger entity were “Insured Persons” under the SPAC’s D&O policy because they were acting in “functionally equivalent” roles to directors and officers of the SPAC when the alleged pre-merger wrongful conduct took place. The court’s pro-policyholder rulings on coverage for government investigations, based on an ambiguous definition of “Claim,” and allocation of defense costs under the Larger Settlement Rule also have potential ramifications on future D&O claims in Delaware outside of SPAC deals.
Continue Reading Delaware Court Finds Broad D&O Coverage for Directors and Officers in SPAC Claim

On March 3, 2021, the Delaware Supreme Court issued a landmark decision holding that Delaware law should be applied in disputes over directors and officers liability (“D&O”) insurance policies sold to companies incorporated in Delaware. RSUI Indem. Co. v. Murdock, et al. No. 154, 2020, C.A. No. N16C-01-104 CCLD (Del. Mar. 3, 2021). The court addressed this and other key issues in the long-running dispute over D&O insurance purchased by Dole Food Company, specifically addressing issues raised by Dole’s eighth-layer excess insurer, RSUI, which provided $10 million coverage excess of $75 million.

The court decided multiple important issues, finding that liability for alleged fraud is insurable under Delaware public policy, RSUI’s Profit/Fraud Exclusion did not bar coverage because there had been no “final adjudication” of fraud, and the “larger sums rule” governed allocation issues. However, among these important rulings, the most significant may be the Supreme Court’s ruling that Delaware governs the interpretation of D&O insurance issued to a company incorporated in Delaware.  The court specifically rejected the insurer’s arguments that California law (which might preclude coverage) should apply under a policy that was purchased and issued in California to a Delaware corporation headquartered in California.Continue Reading Delaware Supreme Court Doles Out Landmark Choice-of-Law Decision in Dole Food Case