Insurance

In our decades working with complex organizations on their Ethics & Compliance (E&C) programs, my colleagues and I have seen a wide variety of structures. While we readily concede there is no one way to structure an E&C program, we have come to believe there are a few traits common to the best programs. Our fourth installment of OIG Shorts reviews traits common to the best programs.

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Continue Reading Organizational Integrity Shorts: Structure Matters

Welcome to our third installment of OIG Shorts. Ethics & Compliance programs that buck up against an employee’s reality—whether that reality is real or perceived—have less chance of succeeding. In this third edition of our OIG Shorts series, we explore the importance of developing what we call Reality-Based E&C Programs.

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Continue Reading Organizational Integrity Shorts: Reality Based Ethics & Compliance Programs

Welcome back to our second installment of OIG Shorts. In this post, the Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP Organizational Integrity Group focuses on the difference between Checking Boxes and Solving Problems from an Ethics & Compliance (E&C) perspective.

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Continue Reading Organizational Integrity Shorts: Everyone Benefits When An Ethics & Compliance Program Is Integrated Throughout An Organization

Over the past 10 years, policy limit settlement demands with myriad conditions have become the norm. In many instances, the conditions are imposed in the hope that the insurer will falter in its efforts to comply. Unless there was strict compliance with every condition, the claimants argued, the demand was rejected and the policy was “open.” Recently, however, California courts have begun to recognize common-sense limitations to these “gotcha” tactics. In 2021, Pinto v. Farmers Ins. Exch., 61 Cal. App. 5th 676 (2021) clarified that to be liable for a bad faith failure to settle, the insurer must have acted unreasonably. In
Continue Reading Negligence is Not Enough/Set-Up Tactics are Disfavored

Over the course of the next few months, the Sheppard Mullin Organizational Integrity Group will be exploring a number of complex compliance matters in a series we call “OIG Shorts.”
Continue Reading Organizational Integrity Shorts: Everyone Benefits When An Ethics & Compliance Program Is Integrated Throughout An Organization

The U.S. Governmental Accountability Office (GAO) thinks the FBI and other agencies are not doing enough to address the espionage threat on U.S. university campuses. It issued a report, “Enforcement Agencies Should Better Leverage Information to Target Efforts Involving U.S. Universities” on June 14, 2022, urging the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of Commerce to step up their outreach efforts to address the threat. Commerce, DHS, and FBI have all concurred with GAO’s recommendations. As a result, U.S. colleges and universities to face yet another organizational risk: an increase in campuses visits by export
Continue Reading U.S. Government Pursues More Aggressive Action to Curb Espionage at Universities

So, nearly 2 years ago your organization applied for and received COVID-relief funds. The decision was not an easy one. On the one hand, government largesse invariably comes with strings and uncertainties, i.e., risk. On the other hand, your organization faced an unprecedented triple threat crisis: financial, operational, and health. Consumer spending plummeted and its consequences rippled through the economy threatening to trigger a global financial meltdown. You could not possibly have forecast how the global pandemic would affect your organization.
Continue Reading A Short Guide To Responding To Employee Concerns About Your Organization’s Actions And Its Mission, Vision, And Values

The inattention some companies pay to their ethics and compliance program never ceases to surprise us. You’d think the frequency of DOJ press releases and prosecutions holding companies accountable for employee wrongdoing would be enough to scare any business into directing more resources at prevention. But alas, many businesses, often over the protestations of their under-resourced Chief Ethics and Compliance Officers (CECOs), continue to think they can get by with a minimalist approach to ethics and compliance. Our experience suggests otherwise.
Continue Reading DOJ’s Renewed Focus On Corporate Ethics & Compliance Programs Highlights Importance Of Organizational Integrity

Government enforcement efforts are on the rise. In December 2021, the Secret Service announced an initiative to more aggressively counter pandemic-related fraud. Empowered by new personnel, new funding, and new legislation, the DOJ has bolstered its antitrust enforcement efforts. Gurbir Grewal, the SEC’s new director of enforcement, shared his aggressive SOX enforcement plans in a recent PLI speech. Speaking at the ABA 36th White Collar Crime Institute, Deputy AG Lisa Monaco announced the DOJ would be re-energizing its enforcement of “white collar” wrongdoing. “Although we understand the costs that enforcement actions can place on shareholders and others,” she told the
Continue Reading Driving Cultural Change To Reduce Corporate Risk: Lessons Learned From The Field

Mudpie, Inc. v. Travelers Casualty Insurance Company of America, — F.4th —-, 2021 WL 4486509 (9th Cir. Oct. 1, 2021), Case No. 20-16858.

In March 2020, California state and local authorities issued orders limiting operations of businesses in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Mudpie, Inc., a children’s retailer, alleged that it was not able to operate after March 16, 2020, due to these orders.

Mudpie then filed a claim with Travelers, its commercial property insurer, seeking business income and extra expense coverage.  Travelers denied coverage because the limitations on Mudpie’s operations were the result of government orders, not “direct physical
Continue Reading Insurers Owe No Coverage for COVID-19 Related Business Interruption Losses Under Commercial Property Policies Insuring “Direct Physical Loss of or Damage to Property”

If your company is like many, your board of directors may be demanding that you put more effort into environmental, social, and governance issues, which have become known by the now-ubiquitous acronym “ESG.” Those demands don’t come from nowhere: consumers are demanding transparency and social responsibility. In addition, if your company does business internationally, regulators are now focused on international social justice issues (such as the use of forced labor) more than ever.
Continue Reading Does Your Trade Policy Support Your Company’s Values?

This past month, the U.S. Senate debated a provision in the Innovation and Competition Act that would require the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) to review any proposed gifts and contracts of $1 million or more to U.S. research institutions from a foreign source. That would mean that the U.S. government would have a new level of oversight of such gifts, be required to investigate the ultimate source of the funds, and be able to impose mitigation measures on or prohibit such gifts.
Continue Reading Open Research, Foreign Finance, and a University’s Mission

Brett McIsaac v. Foremost Insurance Company Grand Rapids, Michigan, A160389 (Sonoma County Super. Ct. No. SCV-265433) (Filed 4/30/21; certified for publication 5/19/21)

McIsaac had an auto insurance policy with Foremost that provided $100,000 per person in underinsured motorist (“UIM”) coverage. The policy had a UIM coverage endorsement which read:
“Arbitration [¶] A. If we and an ‘insured’ do not agree: [¶] 1. Whether that person is legally entitled to recover damages under this coverage; or [¶] 2. As to the amount of damages; [¶] then the matter will be settled by arbitration.
McIsaac was involved in an accident caused by
Continue Reading Insurer Entitled to Arbitrate Disputed UIM Claim Before Insured Could Pursue Bad Faith Action

Mostafavi Law Group, APC v. Larry Rabineau, APC, et al., 2021 WL 803685 (March 3, 2021); Second Appellate District Court of Appeal, Division Four, Case No. B302344 (March 3, 2021).

California Code of Civil Procedure section 998 Offers to Compromise are an effective and widely-used settlement tool in litigation.  The main objective of a Section 998 Offer “is to encourage settlement by providing a strong financial disincentive to a party – whether it be a plaintiff or a defendant – who fails to achieve a better result than the party could have achieved by accepting his or her opponent’s settlement
Continue Reading Statutory Offer To Compromise Void Without Express Acceptance Provision