Insurance

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

Pinto v. Farmers Ins. Exch., ___ Cal. App. 5th ___ (2021)
Over the past several years, the insurance industry in California has been plagued by waves of “bad faith failure to settle” claims.  These claims arise out of a variety of circumstances and can take many forms, but at their core involve the following: an insured injures a third party; that third party then offers to settle his/her claim for the policy limits; but the insurer, for one reason or another, fails to accept that settlement demand.  Once that happens, the third party claimant then takes the position that
Continue Reading Keeping the Cap On the Policy: Unreasonable Conduct Is a Necessary Element of a “Bad Faith Failure to Settle” Claim

Thomas Guastello v. AIG Specialty Insurance Company, — Cal.Rptr.3d –, 2021 WL 650878 (Cal. Ct. App., Feb. 19, 2021), Fourth Appellate District Court of Appeal, Case No. G057714.

Various stakeholders in the Pointe Monarch housing development in Dana Point, California, accused subcontractor C.W. Poss Inc. (“Poss”) of negligently designing and constructing retaining walls.  One such party, Thomas Guastello, sued Poss for damage to a perimeter wall in the backyard of Guastello’s property.  According to Guastello, in January 2010, a retaining wall close to his property designed and constructed by Poss failed and caused soil to collapse and damage a perimeter
Continue Reading Continuous and Progressive Damage Raised Factual Question as to the Timing of “Occurrence”

Contrary to some expectations, the Trump Administration Department of Justice imposed record penalties under the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act from 2017 through 2020. But in each of those years, fewer and fewer new FCPA investigations were initiated. We expect the Biden Administration to continue the trend of increasing FCPA enforcement settlement values, while also increasing the pace of initiating new FCPA investigations. Anticorruption matters present some of the most severe threats to a company’s organizational integrity. Understanding the changing enforcement culture is an important component to addressing those threats.
Continue Reading The Next Four Years of FCPA Enforcement: What to Expect From the Biden Administration

This article was originally published on IP Watchdog.

An employee comes to you with a recipe for your competitor’s “secret sauce.” You know she worked for your competitor before coming to work for you.  How do you respond? It’s an important question, because it may go to the core integrity of your organization and because exploring this trade secret conundrum may offer some decision-making principles that businesses can apply when addressing other difficult decisions that they are being called to make in these stressful COVID-19 times. 
Continue Reading To Disclose Or Not To Disclose: Responding to Trade Secrets Misappropriation by an Employee?

The University of Kentucky (“UK”) announced that it had fired all the coaches of its powerhouse cheerleading team on May 18, 2020 after a three-month internal investigations into allegations of hazing, public nudity, lewd chants, and alcohol use among team members over a number of years.  UK released an eight-page internal report by its Institutional Equity and Equal Opportunity office that probed, among other things, whether “the coaches . . . knew of or should have known” about misconduct by team members and concluded that the “weight of the information provided is sufficient to establish that the coaching staff were
Continue Reading (Cheer)Leading By Example: UK’s Cheerleading Scandal and Lessons for Leaders

In 1657, mathematician Blaise Pascal commented in a letter to his church leaders “I have made this longer than usual because I did not have time to make it shorter.” More than 100 years later, another Frenchman, Napoleon Bonaparte, offered a similar remark to his valet as he prepared to head out for battle. “Dress me slowly,” he said, “I’m in a hurry.” The irony of the quotations makes people smile, but few quibble with their underlying truthfulness. Often, the more in a hurry you are, the more you need to slow down.
Continue Reading Using “Prospective Hindsight” To Identify And Mitigate Risks During A Crisis