COURT DENIES MOTION TO DISMISS FOR LACK OF SUBJECT MATTER JURISDICTION

In prior proceedings, Glory Wealth obtained an England arbitration award against Industrial Carriers, Inc. (ICI) and a confirmation of the award in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Glory Wealth instituted an admiralty case in the Eastern District of Virginia to attach a vessel to satisfy the confirmed arbitration award, naming ICE and Freight Bulk PTE, Inc. (FBP) as defendants. FBP moved to vacate the arbitration confirmation judgment of the Southern District of New York, relying on Rule 60(b)(4), Fed.R.Civ.P., contending the New York judgment was void for lack of jurisdiction. The Virginia district court held that FBP could not collaterally attach the New York confirmation judgment, since FBP was not a party to the New York proceeding. Strong elements of judicial estoppel appear to have influenced the Virginia district court’s decision, since the court noted that FBP had repeatedly denied any status as ICI’s alter ego, yet in the motion at bar to dismiss Glory Wealth’s action, FBP contended it had standing as a party to the New York case to move to vacate the New York judgment. Flame S.A and Glory Wealth Shipping PTE Ltd. v. Industrial Carriers, Inc., Vista Shipping, Inc. and Freight Bulk PTE, Inc., Case No. 2:13-cv-658 (U.S.D.C., E.D. Va., July 17, 2014).

This post written by Kelly A. Cruz-Brown.

See our disclaimer.

Share

NEW JERSEY’S “DIRECT ACTION STATUTE” IS NOT A BAR TO JUDGMENT CREDITOR’S COVERAGE ACTION

A New Jersey appellate court recently addressed that state’s “direct action statute,” concluding that it did not prevent judgment creditors from pursuing a coverage action arising out of an LMX reinsurance spiral. The plaintiffs in the underlying action were former shareholders of certain insurance companies, and they sued the insurers’ managing general agent for professional negligence. The MGA, now defunct, failed to answer. On the eve of the damages hearing, the MGA’s professional liability and excess carriers (Travelers and ERSIC) asserted a variety of coverage defenses, and denied the claim. The plaintiffs obtained a $92 million judgment against the MGA.

After obtaining their judgment, the plaintiffs filed suit in New Jersey against Travelers and ERSIC seeking coverage under the two policies. The trial court dismissed the coverage case due to lack of standing. The trial court based its decision, in part, on New Jersey’s so-called “direct action statute,” N.J.S.A 17:28-2. That statute requires that certain types of policies (those addressing injury to a person and certain loss or damage to property) contain a provision “that the insolvency or bankruptcy of the person insured shall not release the insurance carrier from the payment of damages for injury sustained or loss occasioned during the life of the policy, and stating that in case execution against the insured is returned unsatisfied in an action brought by the insured person because of the insolvency or bankruptcy, then an action may be maintained by the injured person against the [insurer] under the terms of the policy.” The trial court accepted the defendants’ argument that the statute authorizes a direct action against an insurer only for the particular personal injury and property damage risk specified in the statute.

The appellate court disagreed, first noting the general principle that after an injured plaintiff obtains a judgment against an insured tortfeasor that remains unsatisfied due to insolvency, the plaintiff “stands in the shoes” of the insured with respect to the insurance policy and thus acquires standing to pursue an action against the insurer. The court rejected the “direct action statute” argument, holding that just because the statute mandates that certain specifically identified types of policies must contractually provide for the right to a post-judgment action, it does not follow that no such right exists in connection with other types of policies. The appellate court noted that “direct action statute” is a misnomer because the statute does not actually authorize direct actions. Rather, it prohibits insurers from contractually disclaiming, in the specifically enumerated policy types, an injured party’s right to sue the insurer for an unsatisfied judgment. The statute does not provide that derivative or post-judgment actions are available only in regard to those certain types of policies. Accordingly, the plaintiffs had standing to pursue their coverage action. Ferguson v. Travelers Indem. Co., Case No. A-3530-12T3 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. August 4, 2014).

This post written by Catherine Acree.

See our disclaimer.

Share

ALASKA ISSUES BULLETIN ON REGULATIONS MODIFYING SURPLUS LINES REQUIREMENTS

Alaska’s Division of Insurance has released a bulletin notifying licensees, surplus lines insurance companies in the State of Alaska, and other interested parties that it has adopted regulations modifying surplus lines requirements to conform to Alaska statutory changes due to the federal Nonadmitted and Reinsurance Reform Act of 2010. The regulations include modifications to diligent search requirements, additional requirements for the notice of nonrenewal and premium increases, and additional fees for certain licenses. All affected parties must comply with the new requirements as of September 4, 2014, the effective date of the regulations. Alaska Ins. Bulletin No. 14-05 (Aug. 13, 2014).

This post written by Renee Schimkat.

See our disclaimer.

Share

NEW YORK STATE COURT APPROVES CONFIDENTIALITY AGREEMENT

A New York state court approved a stipulation entered into among the parties in a reinsurance dispute which set forth the terms and conditions upon which the parties agreed produce and exchange confidential and/or proprietary documents and information. The agreement permitted the parties to designate documents and information as confidential and thereby restrict their use and dissemination outside the scope of the litigation. Granite State Insurance Co. v. R&Q Insurance Co., Index No. 654494/2013 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. Aug. 4, 2014).

This post written by Leonor Lagomasino.

See our disclaimer.

Share

COURT REJECTS CLAIMS OF PRIVILEGE, WORK PRODUCT, AND THE COMMON INTEREST DOCTRINE TO REINSURANCE INFORMATION

In a discovery dispute between insurer Progressive and the FDIC, as receiver of the insured bank, a federal district court has rejected all claims of attorney-client privilege and work product protection to reinsurance information the court had previously directed Progressive to produce. As reported here, the court had compelled Progressive to produce certain reinsurance information to the FDIC, including communications with its reinsurers regarding potential coverage of the FDIC’s lawsuit against the bank’s directors and officers. Progressive then redacted portions of the communications on the grounds of attorney-client privilege and/or protected work product. The FDIC challenged both grounds. The court first found that the reinsurance information was not protected by work product because the information was created in the ordinary course of business and not “prepared or obtained because of the prospect of litigation.” The court then found that even if the documents contained attorney-client communications, any privilege was waived when Progressive voluntarily disclosed the documents to its reinsurers and broker. Progressive had argued that the common interest doctrine applied to the communications and, therefore, the attorney-client privilege was preserved. The court disagreed, finding the doctrine applied only when the parties shared a common legal interest, not a commercial or financial one. Further, there was no evidence establishing a joint strategy or legal enterprise, which is “central” to the common interest doctrine.

The court did reject the FDIC’s other claims as to alleged deficiencies in Progressive’s production, including Progressive’s failure to produce electronically stored information because Progressive was never previously required to retrieve it. Finally, the court rejected all of the reinsurer’s arguments that it need not comply with the FDIC’s subpoena for documents, including those of privilege, undue burden, and relevance. Progressive Casualty Ins. Co. v. FDIC, Case No. 12-CV-04041 (USDC N.D. Iowa Aug. 22, 2014).

This post written by Renee Schimkat.

See our disclaimer.

Share

SECOND CIRCUIT FINDS THAT LATE NOTICE BARS CLAIMS AGAINST REINSURER

The Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed a lower court’s ruling in favor of TIG Insurance Company, finding that AIU Insurance Company’s belated notice of claim to TIG under nine certificates of facultative reinsurance issued by TIG barred AIU’s claim. AIU submitted its claim almost four years after it settled with its insured regarding numerous asbestos-related lawsuits. Central to the Second Circuit’s ruling was its conclusion that, under New York’s choice of law rules, the substantive law of Illinois – and not New York – applied to the question as to the legal effect of the late notice. Under Illinois law, TIG was not required to prove it was prejudiced resulting from AIU’s late notice. AIU Insurance Co. v. TIG Insurance Co., No. 13-1580-cv (2d Cir. Aug. 27, 2014).

This post written by Leonor Lagomasino.

See our disclaimer.

Share

REINSURANCE BROKER AND CEDENT SETTLE COMPENSATION DISPUTE

On March 26, 2014, we reported on a dispute surrounding whether a cedent was responsible to compensate a reinsurance broker under a particular broker authorization agreement. The court had denied summary judgment, finding that the agreement was ambiguous in that one provision required the reinsurer to pay the broker, while a separate provision implied that it was the cedent’s responsibility to do so. On June 27, 2014, the court entered an order dismissing the case based on an unopposed motion informing the court of the parties’ settlement. Global Risk Intermediary, LLC v. Aetna Global Benefits Ltd., Case No. 4:13-CV-0133 (USDC W.D. Ark. June 27, 2014).

This post written by Michael Wolgin.

See our disclaimer.

Share

MISSOURI COURT DENIES RECONSIDERATION OF ORDER QUASHING SUBPOENA OF UN-ISSUED ARBITRATION AWARD

Lincoln Memorial Insurance Company and Hannover Life Reinsurance Company of America became engaged in a long-running reinsurance dispute, arising from an allegedly fraudulent scheme by Lincoln and others in the sale of pre-need funeral service contracts. Hannover reinsured some of those contracts. The matter was arbitrated, and Lincoln claim that Hannover wrongfully accused Lincoln of fraud and intentional misconduct during the court of that arbitration.

Ultimately, Lincoln became insolvent and entered into receivership in Texas. Lincoln asserted that Hannover’s conduct in the arbitration was a factor in driving it to insolvency. The Texas Department of Insurance appointed a receiver and issued a permanent injunction, which, among other things, enjoined further arbitration against Lincoln, before the arbitrator ever issued an award.

The Special Deputy Receiver, Jo Ann Howard & Associates, thereafter brought claims in federal court against several entities alleging, among other things, RICO, breach of fiduciary duty, and gross negligence, which purportedly caused or contributed to Lincoln’s insolvency.

As we previously reported, one of the defendants in the action brought by the receiver, National City Bank, subpoenaed the arbitrator in the Hannover Re arbitration, seeking his un-issued award. National City also asserted several special defenses to the receiver’s suit, including failure to mitigate damages. The receiver moved to quash the subpoena and to strike National City’s failure to mitigate affirmative defense. The court granted both motions.

National City thereafter moved for reconsideration and clarification of the Court’s order. Construing the motion as a Rule 60(b) motion to amend, the Court held that National City was not entitled to the “extraordinary relief” available under that rule, as it had not met the high burden of demonstrating “exceptional circumstances” warranting the correction of any error, even if a substantial error had been made, which, the Court duly noted, was not the case. Jo Ann Howard & Associates, P.C. v. Cassity (USDC E.D. Mo. July 15, 2014).

This post written by John Pitblado.

See our disclaimer.

Share

ENGLISH APPELLATE COURT DISMISSES APPEAL OF JUDGMENT DECLARING NO LIABILITY UNDER A CARGO LIABILITY REINSURANCE POLICY

A judgment found that certain Lloyd’s reinsurers were not liable to cover the destruction of cargo on board a vessel that capsized in the Philippines during a Typhoon. The trial court relied on a typhoon warranty clause contained in both the reinsurance policy and the underlying insurance policy, which deemed the policy void if a vessel sailed out of port (1) “when there is a typhoon or storm warning at that port”; or (2) when the destination or intended route “may be within the possible path of the typhoon or storm announced at the port of sailing, port of destination or any intervening point.” The trial court had found that there was a typhoon or storm warning at the port of sailing, and that the vessel’s route was within the possible path of the typhoon or storm announced at the port.

On appeal, the cedent argued that the first condition of the typhoon warranty clause was not breached under a four-step analysis: (1) the reinsurance policy contained a follow the settlements clause, (2) which required the reinsurance coverage to be interpreted like the underlying insurance policy, (3) the insurance policy should be construed in accordance with what an experienced insured would have understood the storm notice to mean, and (4) in this case, the storm notice would not be understood by an experienced insured as a sufficient warning against embarking. The court rejected this argument, holding that the clause must be understood according to only its plain meaning, both with respect to the clause in the insurance policy and the parallel clause in the reinsurance policy, and here it was undisputed that a storm warning had been issued. The court also rejected the cedent’s contention that the intended path of the vessel would not have crossed the possible path of the typhoon, finding that it was proper for the trial court to determine that the intended route was within the typhoon’s path. Amlin Corporate Member Ltd. v. Oriental Assurance Corp., [2014] EWCA Civ 1135 (Royal Courts of Justice, July 8, 2014).

This post written by Michael Wolgin.

See our disclaimer.

Share

NAIC EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE ADOPTS FRAMEWORK FOR CHANGES TO CAPTIVE RESERVE REQUIREMENTS

NAIC’s Executive Committee met at NAIC’s annual meeting in Louisville, Kentucky on August 16 and 17, 2014. The Executive Committee furthered its action on reserve requirements for captive reinsurers (as reported here last year) and adopted the “XXX/AXXX Reinsurance Framework” which will guide development of proposed regulatory changes to the types of assets and securities required to meet statutory reserve requirements.

Arising from worries about potentially abusive use of captives creating a “shadow insurance industry (as reported here in 2012), the framework would, among other things, require ceding companies to disclose the assets backing their risk-based-capital (RBC) computations.

As noted in the Principle-Based Reserving (PBR) Implementation (EX) Task Force’s report to the Executive (EX) Committee, the framework:

  • addresses concerns regarding reserve financing transactions without encouraging such transactions to move off-shore. The changes would be prospective and apply to XXX term life insurance business and AXXX universal life with secondary guarantees.
  • requires the ceding company to collateralize a portion of the total statutory reserves with hard assets such as cash and securities, collateralize the remainder with other assets and forms of security identified as acceptable by regulators, disclose the assets and securities used; and hold an RBC cushion as required for other business.
  • will be codified through the Credit for Reinsurance Model Law, with the creation of a new model regulation.

The PBR subcommittee’s report is based on the June 4 Rector & Associates, Inc. report’s recommendations (a copy of which is available on the PBR taskforce’s website: http://www.naic.org/committees_ex_pbr_implementation_tf.htm).

This post written by John Pitblado.

See our disclaimer.

Share