Having settled with the SEC over charges relating to allegedly fraudulent reinsurance transactions, MBIA may be finding closure on the civil side of that problem. Relying on a 1991 Supreme Court decision stating that litigation under Section 10(b) and Rule 10b-5 must be commenced “within one year after the discovery of the facts constituting the violation and within three years after such a violation,” a District Court has dismiss a securities fraud putative class action against MBIA as time-barred. Plaintiffs filed a consolidated securities fraud class action alleging that MBIA’s financial statements were materially misstated because MBIA improperly treated a series of transactions in 1998 as reinsurance agreements, and the associated proceeds as income, although they were in fact disguised loans. In re MBIA Inc. Securities Litigation, Case No. 05-3514 (USDC S.D.N.Y. Feb. 14, 2007).
Arbitration / Court Decisions
Following arbitration of a dispute between parties to a coinsurance arrangement, an arbitration panel awarded attorney and arbitrator fees and costs to one party. A District Court confirmed the award, but vacated the award of fees and costs, which exceeded three million dollars, concluding that the award exceeded the arbitrators’ powers. The court relied on the terms of the coinsurance agreements, which expressly stated that “[e]ach party shall bear the expense of its own arbitrator…and related outside attorneys’ fees.” The court held that despite the breadth of the agreements to arbitrate, these provisions made clear that the arbitrators had no authority to award outside attorneys’ fees. The Court's decision is reflected in an Order, and a Judgment, with additional information about the case available in Memoranda filed by Reliastar and EMC National Life. Reliastar Life Insurance Company of New York v. EMC National Life Insurance Company, No. 06-cv-10186 (S.D.N.Y., February 13, 2007).
A group of companies has settled civil and regulatory issues relating to alleged bid rigging in the sale of insurance. A District Court has approved a settlement whereby Zurich Financial Services, Zurich American Insurance Company, Steadfast Insurance Company, Fidelity and Deposit of Maryland, Empire Fire and Marine Insurance Company, American Guarantee and Liability Insurance Company, Empire Indemnity Insurance Company and Assurance Company of America have settled all claims in a pending MDL action, and also settled with numerous state attorneys general and insurance departments. In re: Insurance Brokerage Antitrust Litigation, Case No. 04-5184/MDL No. 1663 (USDC D.N.J. Feb. 16, 2007). Details of the settlement, which will cost the companies over $200 million, may be found in a Memorandum In Support of a motion seeking approval of the settlement.
In an appeal from an award in an NASD-sponsored arbitration, the Tenth Circuit has joined virtually all other Circuits in recognizing that arbitrators, arbitral forums and arbitral sponsors are immune from liability for actions taken in connection with administering arbitration. Pfannenstiel v. Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, Case No. 04-1274 (10th Cir. Feb. 20, 2007).
In an action seeking reinsurance for trucking risks, in which the reinsurer alleged that the reinsurance had been placed in breach of various binding guidelines and agreements, a magistrate judge granted, in part, a motion to compel the reinsurer to produce documents relating to its underwriting process and declination of other trucking risks. The Court believed that the documents were discoverable to rebut the reinsurer's position. Scottsdale Insurance v. American Re-Insurance Co., 8:06-cv-00016 (D. Neb., Feb. 2, 2007)