Justia Corporate Compliance Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Insurance Law
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In 2010, plaintiffs and Tidyman’s Management Services Inc. (TMSI) filed a complaint against Michael A. Davis and John Maxwell in their capacities as officers and directors of TMSI and/or its subsidiary, Tidyman’s LLC, alleging breach of corporate duties arising out of a merger between TMSI and SuperValu, which created Tidyman’s LLC. Plaintiffs requested punitive damages and attorney fees. The merger at issue occurred despite advice from a financial advisor TMSI had retained that the company should be sold, and the complaint alleged that the directors and officers had misrepresented the merit of the transaction. TMSI is a Washington corporation with its principal place of business in Montana, and was a member of Tidyman’s LLC; employee shareholders owned TMSI. A corporate liability insurance policy was in place that purported to insure Davis and Maxwell against liability incurred in their positions as officers and directors of Tidyman’s LLC. The Policy was to provide a legal defense for Davis and Maxwell throughout the federal ERISA litigation. The issues this case presented to the Montana Supreme Court were: (1) whether the District Court was correct in concluding Montana law, rather than Washington law, applied in this case; (2) whether the District Court erred in concluding that the corporate liability insurer breached its duty to defend without analyzing coverage under the policy; (3) whether the District Court erred in denying the insurer a hearing and discovery on reasonableness and collusion related to the stipulated settlements; and (4) whether the District Court erred by awarding pre-judgment interest, or in its determination of when the interest began accruing. The Montana Court concluded that genuine issues of material fact regarding reasonableness precluded summary judgment on the amount of the stipulated settlements. Accordingly,the Court reversed judgment on the stipulated settlements and remanded this case for further proceedings. The Court affirmed on all other issues. View "Tidyman s et al. v. Davis et al." on Justia Law

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Kennedy family members own a controlling interest in corporate entities that comprise Autocam. John Kennedy is Autocam’s CEO. The companies are for-profit manufacturers in the automotive and medical industries and have 661 employees in the U.S. The Kennedys are practicing Roman Catholics and profess to “believe that they are called to live out the teachings of Christ in their daily activity and witness to the truth of the Gospel,” which includes their business dealings. Regulations under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA), 124 Stat. 119, require that Autocam’s health care plan cover, without cost-sharing, all FDA-approved contraceptive methods, sterilization, and patient education and counseling for enrolled female employees. Autocam and the Kennedys claim that compliance with the mandate will force them to violate their religious beliefs, in violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, 42 U.S.C. 2000bb. The district court denied their motion for a preliminary injunction. The Sixth Circuit affirmed for lack of standing. Recognition of rights for corporations under the Free Speech Clause 20 years after RFRA’s enactment does not require the conclusion that Autocam is a “person” that can exercise religion for purposes of RFRA. View "Autocam Corp. v. Sebelius" on Justia Law

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Amicas agreed to a merger for $5.35 per Amicas share. Shareholders sued in Massachusetts state court, contesting the adequacy of a proxy statement used to seek approval. A preliminary injunction stopped the vote. The suit settled when a third party made a $6.05 per-share tender offer. Amicas shareholders gained $26 million. The lawyers who filed the suit sought attorneys’ fees based on the difference between the bids. Carolina Casualty had issued a policy covering what Amicas and its directors pay their own litigation lawyers and what Amicas must pay adversaries’ lawyers. The state court awarded $3,150,000, using a lodestar of $630,000 (1,400 hours at $450 per hour) times five, to reflect the risk of nonpayment and “an exceptionally favorable result.” Carolina Casualty filed a diversity suit, claiming that coverage was limited to $630,000. The district judge affirmed, but denied damages for bad faith or vexatious failure to pay. The Massachusetts appeal settled with payment of a sum that cannot be affected by the results of federal litigation. The Seventh Circuit held that the case was not moot, but affirmed, rejecting an argument that the award constituted excluded “civil or criminal fines or penalties … punitive or exemplary damages, the multiplied portion of multiplied damages.” View "Carolina Cas. Ins. Co v. Merge Healthcare Solutions, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs are five pension funds operated by the State of Ohio for public employees that invested hundreds of millions of dollars in 308 mortgage-backed securities (MBS) between 2005 and 2008, all of which received a “AAA” or equivalent credit rating from one of the three major credit-rating agencies. The value of MBS collapsed during this period, leaving the Funds with estimated losses of $457 million. The Funds sued under Ohio’s “blue sky” laws and a common-law theory of negligent misrepresentation, alleging that the Agencies’ ratings were false and misleading and that the Funds’ reasonable reliance on those ratings caused their losses. The district court dismissed. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. Even if a credit rating can serve as an actionable misrepresentation, the Agencies owed no duty to the Funds and the Funds’ allegations of bad business practices did not establish a reasonable inference of wrongdoing View "OH Police & Fire Pension Fund v. Standard & Poor's Fin. Servs., LLC" on Justia Law

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Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) regulations implementing the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) require that employers’ group health plans furnish preventive care and screenings for women without cost sharing requirements, 42 U.S.C. 300gg–13(a)(4). Nonexempt employers must provide coverage for 20 FDA-approved contraceptive methods, including four that may have the effect of preventing a fertilized egg from developing. Religious employers, such as churches, are exempt from the contraceptive mandate. HHS has effectively exempted religious nonprofit organizations; an insurer must exclude contraceptive coverage from such an employer’s plan and provide participants with separate payments for contraceptive services. Closely held for-profit corporations sought an injunction under the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which prohibits the government from substantially burdening a person’s exercise of religion even by a rule of general applicability unless it demonstrates that imposing the burden is the least restrictive means of furthering a compelling governmental interest, 42 U.S.C. 2000bb–1(a), (b). As amended by the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA), RFRA covers “any exercise of religion, whether or not compelled by, or central to, a system of religious belief.” The Third Circuit held that a for-profit corporation could not “engage in religious exercise” under RFRA and that the mandate imposed no requirements on corporate owners in their personal capacity. The Tenth Circuit held that the businesses are “persons” under RFRA; that the contraceptive mandate substantially burdened their religious exercise; and that HHS had not demonstrated that the mandate was the “least restrictive means” of furthering a compelling governmental interest.The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the businesses, holding that RFRA applies to regulations that govern the activities of closely held for-profit corporations. The Court declined to “leave merchants with a difficult choice” of giving up the right to seek judicial protection of their religious liberty or forgoing the benefits of operating as corporations. Nothing in RFRA suggests intent to depart from the Dictionary Act definition of “person,” which includes corporations, 1 U.S.C.1; no definition of “person” includes natural persons and nonprofit corporations, but excludes for-profit corporations. “Any suggestion that for-profit corporations are incapable of exercising religion because their purpose is simply to make money flies in the face of modern corporate law.” The Court rejected arguments based on the difficulty of ascertaining the “beliefs” of large, publicly traded corporations and that the mandate itself requires only insurance coverage. If the plaintiff companies refuse to provide contraceptive coverage, they face severe economic consequences; the government failed to show that the contraceptive mandate is the least restrictive means of furthering a compelling interest in guaranteeing cost-free access to the four challenged contraceptive methods. The government could assume the cost of providing the four contraceptives or could extend the accommodation already established for religious nonprofit organizations. The Court noted that its decision concerns only the contraceptive mandate, not all insurance-coverage mandates, e.g., for vaccinations or blood transfusions. View "Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc." on Justia Law

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Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) regulations implementing the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) require that employers’ group health plans furnish preventive care and screenings for women without cost sharing requirements, 42 U.S.C. 300gg–13(a)(4). Nonexempt employers must provide coverage for 20 FDA-approved contraceptive methods, including four that may have the effect of preventing a fertilized egg from developing. Religious employers, such as churches, are exempt from the contraceptive mandate. HHS has effectively exempted religious nonprofit organizations; an insurer must exclude contraceptive coverage from such an employer’s plan and provide participants with separate payments for contraceptive services. Closely held for-profit corporations sought an injunction under the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which prohibits the government from substantially burdening a person’s exercise of religion even by a rule of general applicability unless it demonstrates that imposing the burden is the least restrictive means of furthering a compelling governmental interest, 42 U.S.C. 2000bb–1(a), (b). As amended by the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA), RFRA covers “any exercise of religion, whether or not compelled by, or central to, a system of religious belief.” The Third Circuit held that a for-profit corporation could not “engage in religious exercise” under RFRA and that the mandate imposed no requirements on corporate owners in their personal capacity. The Tenth Circuit held that the businesses are “persons” under RFRA; that the contraceptive mandate substantially burdened their religious exercise; and that HHS had not demonstrated that the mandate was the “least restrictive means” of furthering a compelling governmental interest.The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the businesses, holding that RFRA applies to regulations that govern the activities of closely held for-profit corporations. The Court declined to “leave merchants with a difficult choice” of giving up the right to seek judicial protection of their religious liberty or forgoing the benefits of operating as corporations. Nothing in RFRA suggests intent to depart from the Dictionary Act definition of “person,” which includes corporations, 1 U.S.C.1; no definition of “person” includes natural persons and nonprofit corporations, but excludes for-profit corporations. “Any suggestion that for-profit corporations are incapable of exercising religion because their purpose is simply to make money flies in the face of modern corporate law.” The Court rejected arguments based on the difficulty of ascertaining the “beliefs” of large, publicly traded corporations and that the mandate itself requires only insurance coverage. If the plaintiff companies refuse to provide contraceptive coverage, they face severe economic consequences; the government failed to show that the contraceptive mandate is the least restrictive means of furthering a compelling interest in guaranteeing cost-free access to the four challenged contraceptive methods. The government could assume the cost of providing the four contraceptives or could extend the accommodation already established for religious nonprofit organizations. The Court noted that its decision concerns only the contraceptive mandate, not all insurance-coverage mandates, e.g., for vaccinations or blood transfusions. View "Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Directors & Officers Liability policy contains an insured vs. insured exclusion that removes the duty to defend or indemnify for “Loss on account of any Claim ... by or on behalf of any Insured or Company in any capacity.” The allocation clause provides: “If ... Insureds incur an amount consisting of both Loss covered by this Policy and loss not covered … because the Claim includes both covered and uncovered matters, such amount shall be allocated between covered Loss and uncovered loss based upon the relative legal exposures of the parties to covered and uncovered matters.” Five plaintiffs sued SCBI and directors and officers, asserting fraud, civil conspiracy, and violation of the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act. The insurer declined to advance defense costs or otherwise indemnify SCBI, citing the exclusion. Two plaintiffs are former directors of SCBI who are insureds; a third is also included in the definition. The district court dismissed, finding no duty to defend or to indemnify. The Seventh Circuit held that the insurer has no duty to defend or indemnify the claims brought by the three insured plaintiffs, but must defend and indemnify with respect to the two non-insured plaintiffs. View "Miller v. St. Paul Mercury Ins. Co." on Justia Law

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This matter came before the court on the basis of two competing motions related to a petition for the appointment of a receiver under 8 Del. C. 279 for Kraft-Murphy Company, Inc., a defunct Delaware corporation that had been dissolved for more than twelve years. The first motion was a motion to perfect service on the company brought by petitioners, who were claimants in various asbestos-related tort suits filed against the company in various jurisdictions in the mid-Atlantic region. The second motion was a motion to dismiss, filed by the company's insurers on behalf of the company. The court held that service of process could be perfected on the dissolved corporation and that petitioners conceivably could be able to show that a receiver should be appointed for the corporation to enable it to respond to claims brought against it, because the corporation's informal plan of dissolution contemplated using its insurance contracts for that purpose. Therefore, the court granted petitioners' motion to perfect service and denied the company's motion to dismiss. View "IMO Krafft-Murphy Co., Inc." on Justia Law

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The City of New York sued defendants under federal and New York State antitrust laws, seeking to prevent the companies from merging. The city appealed from a judgment of the district court granting summary judgment to defendants and dismissing the city's complaint without leave to amend. The court agreed with the district court that the alleged relevant market definition, as the "low-cost municipal health benefits market[,]" was legally deficient and concluded that the district court's denial of leave to amend was not an abuse of discretion. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgement of the district court. View "City of New York v. Group Health Inc., et al." on Justia Law

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This criminal appeal arose from a "finite reinsurance" transaction between American International Group, Inc. (AIG) and General Reinsurance Corporation (Gen Re). Defendants, four executives of Gen Re and one of AIG, appealed from judgments convicting them of conspiracy, mail fraud, securities fraud, and making false statements to the Securities and Exchange Commission. Defendants appealed on a variety of grounds, some in common and others specific to each defendant, ranging from evidentiary challenges to serious allegations of widespread prosecutorial misconduct. Most of the arguments were without merit, but defendants' convictions must be vacated because the district court abused its discretion by admitting the stock-price data and issued a jury instruction that directed the verdict on causation. View "United States v. Ferguson, et al." on Justia Law