A New York federal court recently held that an insurance company was entitled to recoup legal fees paid under a directors and officers liability policy in defense of a criminal action against an ex-CEO who was convicted of bribery. On a motion for reconsideration, the court affirmed its earlier ruling that the CEO’s conduct fell within the policy’s “Dishonest and Willful Acts Exclusion,” reasoning that the criminal case had been finally adjudicated despite a pending appeal. Because there was no coverage, the insurer could seek repayment of all defense costs it had paid to date. Not only is the court’s recoupment decision potentially inconsistent with New York law, but it also raises thorny questions regarding just when a judgment is “final” for the purpose of triggering D&O policy exclusions.
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
Attorneys from Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP’s Insurance Coverage practice group contributed to the Firm’s Recall Roundup by weighing in on a recently-filed product contamination insurance coverage dispute, Lake Country Foods, Inc. v. Houston Casualty Co., No. 18-CV-734 (E.D. Wis. filed May 11, 2018), where Lake Country Foods seeks an order permitting it to keep $1.2…
A Georgia district court recently denied an insurer’s attempt to recoup defense costs, holding that even where the court previously determined that coverage was barred under the policy’s pollution exclusion, the insurer could not “rewrite the record” or clarify its “defective” reservation of rights letters to show that it fairly informed the policyholder of its coverage position, which is a prerequisite to recoupment of defense costs.
Continue Reading District Court Rejects Insurer’s Attempt to Recoup Defense Costs, Citing Defective Reservation of Rights
Congratulations, your cracker-jack defense team just won the underlying case. They also just lost your insurance coverage and you now must repay millions of dollars of defense costs. Seem odd? Not according to the Second Circuit in Petroterminal de Panama, S.A. v. Houston Cas. Co., No. 15-2941-cv (2d Cir., Sept. 8, 2016).
Continue Reading You’ve Defeated Liability! But At What Cost?