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- The Inbox – April 18, 2014 – The Easter Bunny Edition
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The AmLaw Daily
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Screw You Guys, I’m Going Home: What You Need To Know Before You Scream “I Quit,” Get Fired, Or Decide to Sue the Bastards
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Showing 11 posts in Insurance.
When the dog bites
When the bee stings
When I'm feeling sad
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don't feel so bad.
Just from looking at the lyrics, your mind will automatically add in the tune. Rodgers & Hammerstein wrote it, Mary Martin, Julie Andrews, and even Carrie Underwood have performed it: the classic song “My Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music (which for mysterious reasons is now associated with Christmas, even though the musical isn’t about Christmas at all).
But I bet few people know how I interpret the song. I’m an insurance coverage lawyer – so my favorite things aren’t brown paper packages tied up with string or schnitzel or bright copper kettles. My favorite things (or, at least, the things I use every day) include principles that – if some thought is given to them before a claim comes about, or in presenting the claim when it happens – can help executives and the companies that hire and fire them have access to the right insurance for the disputes that develop between them. So, in that spirit, this post looks at some of those executive-employment-related insurance issues that we’ve reviewed throughout this year. They’re all things that business leaders should think on as they consider a company’s insurance strategy. You could think of it as a cream-colored pony with an insurance treatise on its back. But I’ll make it much more appealing than some book – more like a crisp apple streudel. Read More ›
Will Fiduciary Liability Insurance Cover Severance Agreement Payments If The Company Can’t Make Them?
We write frequently about severance pay for executives – a subject near and dear to the hearts, and wallets, of executives and the companies that hire and fire them. Today, we’re going to take this a step further – beyond the severance agreement itself – and look at an interesting case that raises the question of whether a company’s severance payments to an executive are covered losses under that company’s fiduciary liability insurance if the company becomes unable to make those payments.
It’s a neat case from a lot of perspectives, even if there aren’t too many clear answers. It’s an interesting issue for companies that enter into severance agreements and then can’t follow through with the money due to a bankruptcy. Today’s case is especially relevant for us at Suits by Suits because the policyholder is a law firm that – gasp! – went into liquidation, and the executive claiming the severance benefits is a former partner at the firm. Personally, I like it because the focus of my work is insurance coverage disputes like this – figuring out what’s covered (or not) under insurance policies. Read More ›
In Part One of this series, we gave the background to the insurance coverage dispute between Jerry Sandusky and Federal Insurance Company, which wrote D&O and employment practices liability insurance to The Second Mile, a charity Sandusky founded. I explained how Sandusky was seeking coverage under those policies for the criminal and civil cases against him, and how, in response, Federal filed suit, arguing that it did not have to indemnify or defend him because he was not “acting in his capacity” as an executive of Second Mile when the alleged sexual abuse happened.
Last week, the court held that Federal did not have a duty to reimburse Sandusky’s defense costs, as we’ll explain below. But first, let me get on my insurance-lawyer soapbox and explain a couple of key terms. Insurance in its most common form (and certainly the policies Federal wrote here) does two things: 1) indemnify someone, or some business, for judgments or settlements against them in civil cases, and 2) defend someone, or some business – or pay defense costs in civil (and, in rare cases, criminal) matters. Indemnity and defense are two distinct obligations that the insurer has. Read More ›
“Everything has its limit - iron ore cannot be educated into gold,” Mark Twain famously said. In this two-part series, we’re going to explore one limit on protection from risk using insurance.
We’ve written frequently about the need for companies and their executives to protect themselves from lawsuits using insurance and indemnification. In our writing on SuitsbySuits, the most common types of insurance we discuss are directors’ and officers’ insurance (which protects directors, officers, and sometimes companies against litigation arising out of the directors’ and officers’ work on behalf of the company) and employment practices liability insurance (which defends companies and executives against litigation arising from employment discrimination, wrongful termination, and other types of claims).
Insurance is a good way to transfer the risk of certain types of claims to an insurer, and it’s something company executives need to consider. But, as Twain reminded us, everything has its limit. This series of posts is about an executive at a charitable foundation, who found one limit of the foundation’s directors and officers’ (D&O) and employment practices liability insurance last week – when a court held that the insurer didn’t have to pay his legal bills in cases against him, because those cases arose out of actions he took outside of his role as an executive. Technically speaking, he was not an “insured person” under the policies.
Sounds generic, right? What’s so interesting about this? Read More ›
EPLI: If You Hire Or Manage People And You Don’t Know What That Stands For, You Should Probably Read This: Part 1
There are things we’re all supposed to do before a catastrophe occurs, to help prevent that catastrophe or minimize the harm from it. This list would include changing the batteries in your smoke detectors, or making sure your car is kept in good repair, or seeing the dentist every so often for a thorough teeth cleaning.
If you are an executive or a business owner with any role in hiring or managing others, I’m about to add one more suggestion to that list: check to figure out if you have insurance for employment-related allegations for which you may, in some circumstances, be held personally liable. Read More ›
EPLI: If You Hire Or Manage People And You Don’t Know What That Stands For, You Should Probably Read This, Part 2
In Part One of this series, we looked at insurance for employment-related claims against business owners and managers. Specifically, we looked at employment practices liability insurance (“EPLI”), and I suggested you find out if your company has this coverage – which, if you’re doing any of the hiring, firing, or supervising, is something you should know.
Assuming your company (or entity – employment-related claims hit not-for-profits as well) has EPLI, then you need to ask some more questions to really understand what it covers and how it will work. And the time to consider this is before you may potentially have a claim for coverage under it. Read More ›
It's A Wonderful Life...Or It Will Be If George And Uncle Billy Can Get Their Legal Fees Paid, Part 2
From the script for It’s A Wonderful Life (1946):
Hope you enjoy it.
George suddenly sees the old cigar lighter on the counter.
He closes his eyes and makes a wish.
Oh... Oh. Wish I had a million
As he snaps the lighter the flame springs up.
Can George’s wish for a million dollars (or more) actually be granted, when he and Uncle Billy may need it the most? Read More ›
My colleague Ellen Marcus has written a great piece about Sergey Aleynikov, a vice president and computer programmer at Goldman Sachs who allegedly stole its proprietary computer code as he was heading out the door to work at a competitor. Aleynikov was indicted and convicted for breaking Federal law when he did so – but a Federal appellate court overturned his conviction. Now, though, he’s about to face New York State charges for the same alleged theft. Aleynikov has sued Goldman Sachs, arguing the investment bank has an obligation to reimburse him for the legal fees he’s already incurred (indemnification) and pay his new legal bills as he fights the state charges (advancement).
Ellen noted in her piece that the Aleynikov story “illustrates key concepts about indemnification and advancement.” There is, though, another piece of this puzzle that the Aleynikov matter also illustrates. Read More ›
A Blog Post On Risk and Insurance: Really, It's Not As Painful As It Sounds (And It May Even Save You A Lot Of Money)
I need to start off with a confession: my name is Bill and I’m an insurance lawyer. (“Welcome, Bill”). I’m going to be writing about insurance as it applies to employment-related disputes. Even though you may think insurance is a very dry subject, I promise to make it as interesting as I can – although there will be no dancing green lizards in any of these posts. And, if you work for (or defend) a company that can face suits by employees, you may find these posts very helpful when it comes to protecting your corporate bottom line from those suits.
Many of the other folks who write on this blog are able to tell great tales of high-profile fights between executives and their companies. Those are important stories and they are at the core of what this blog is about. My perspective on employment disputes is somewhat different: I look at whether a company’s insurance policies can provide the company with a defense against an action brought by an employee (or reimbursement for fees and costs when a company defends itself), and whether those policies will cover a judgment or settlement of the case. It can be a little esoteric at times, and I spend a lot of time thinking about the meaning of individual words in an insurance policy. Read More ›
I need to start off with a confession: my name is Bill and I’m an insurance lawyer. (“Welcome, Bill”). I’m going to be writing about insurance as it applies to employment-related disputes. Even though you may think insurance is a very dry subject, I promise to make it as interesting as I can – although there will be no dancing green lizards in any of these posts. And, if you work for (or defend) a company that can face suits by employees, you may find these posts to be interesting food for thought when it comes to protecting your corporate bottom line from those suits. (As always, though, whether an individual dispute is insured or not is a very fact-specific inquiry that depends on the language of the policy and the facts at issue – your mileage may vary, as they say). Read More ›