Effective November 24, 2014 Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP and Bingham McCutchen LLP have concluded a transaction. Visitors seeking information on this page should visit the corresponding page on the Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP website.

Bingham

Bingham

Insurance

Few firms serve the insurance industry as comprehensively or as capably as Bingham. For more than a quarter century, we have provided legal guidance to the industry’s leading companies. In that time, our clients evolved dramatically, helping to shape the complex and multifaceted industry that insurance is today. As our clients grew and diversified, so did we.

With a solid foundation in the industry and experience in the broader challenges facing all businesses, we represent insurance companies in their most sophisticated and critical matters. We know insurance — the business, the industry, its challenges, its needs. Our insurance industry practice draws upon the skills of partners from across disciplines and practice groups. This enables us to provide comprehensive legal services in areas of core concern to insurers.

Experience

Aetna — Represented Aetna Life Insurance Company on insurance and reinsurance issues in connection with acquisition of Genworth subsidiary.

Ambac Assurance — Represented a group of mutual fund/policyholders in connection with restructuring of Ambac Assurance Corp.

American United Life Insurance — Obtained a favorable decision that follows on the Enron decision described in the preceding summary. On July 27, 2011, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York granted summary judgment to our clients, dismissing a $376 million preference action brought by the Official Creditors’ Committee of Chapter 11 Debtors Quebecor World (USA) Inc., et al. to recover prepayments of private placement notes. The Quebecor decision further clarifies the breadth of the Section 546(e) safe harbor.

Argo Partners — Won an appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on behalf of Argo Partners, Inc., an investment firm that specializes in distressed investments. In 2006, Argo purchased more than 100 claims held by various institutions and individuals against an insurance company in liquidation in Vermont. After the insurance company liquidator announced it would make additional distributions on the claims, including large interest payments, one of the claimants filed a putative class action to invalidate his and other claimants’ assignments to Argo.  The case was originally brought in New York state court, but Bingham removed it to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York under the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA). In 2010, the firm obtained summary judgment for Argo on the grounds that the terms of the plaintiff’s assignment agreements were unambiguous and that there was no basis to invalidate the agreements or adopt the narrow construction advocated by the plaintiff, which would have excluded the payment of interest.

California Commissioner of Insurance — Representation of the California Commissioner of Insurance in his role as Conservator of the Executive Life Insurance Company in connection with issues arising out of administration of the estate and approval of estate expenses

Chartis — Advising Chartis, one of the world’s largest insurance companies, regarding the television writers’ class action litigation against the motion picture studios, television networks and talent agencies for age discrimination.

Chartis — Representation of Chartis member companies in a declaratory relief action filed to determine insurance coverage issues with respect to an underlying False Claims Act case against J-M Manufacturing, Inc., the largest PVC manufacturer in the world, claiming sale of defective PVC pipe.

Chartis — Representation of Chartis member companies with respect to insurance coverage for an underlying construction defect litigation involving Jacob’s Ferry, Bulk Ferry and Harbor Pane in Gutenberg and West New York, New Jersey.

Chartis — Successfully represented Chartis against a CNA insurer in a weeklong bench trial in federal court in San Jose, CA. The CNA company, claiming its consent had not been sought, had refused to contribute its $5,000,000 policy limits toward a settlement of an underlying action involving catastrophic personal injuries. Chartis paid that money instead and sought to recover it. The federal court, adopting all of Chartis’ evidence and legal arguments, awarded Chartis the entire $5,000,000 amount.

Chartis — Obtained summary judgment for two Chartis insurance companies that had been sued for approximately $90 million in compensatory damages by an insured. Bingham was retained to replace another law firm, and within three to four months had obtained favorable discovery rulings, reversed prior unfavorable rulings received by the prior law firm, and filed an extensive summary judgment motion. C.R. Bard, the insured, was sued in two separate actions for alleged antitrust violations and disparagement of a competitor’s products. Bard settled one of the actions for $49 million, incurred $17 million in the defense of that action, and apparently has incurred what may be another $30 million in the defense of the second suit, which is ongoing and which is based on the same alleged disparagements as the settled lawsuit. Bard brought suit in federal court in New Jersey, seeking to recover its settlement payment and its defense costs from Lexington Insurance Company and American International Specialty Lines Insurance Company. Lexington and AISLIC moved for summary judgment on the ground that a “prior publication” exclusion in their policies precluded coverage as a matter of law. More specifically, they asserted that Bard had published substantively similar allegedly disparaging statements both before and during the insurers’ policy periods and that therefore there was no coverage under the policies. Bard opposed the motions on a variety of grounds and filed its own motion for partial summary judgment, seeking a determination that the insurers had a duty to defend or reimburse defense costs. The federal district court granted Lexington and AISLIC’s motion and denied Bard’s motion. The court adopted all of Lexington and AISLIC’s arguments, including a finding that the prior publications were not substantively different from publications made during the policy periods.

Guy Carpenter — The Los Angeles jury trial victory obtained by the firm for client, Guy Carpenter & Co. LLC, was recently upheld by the California Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District. In denying Workmen’s Auto Insurance Co.’s bid to revive a lawsuit that accused Guy Carpenter of breaching its fiduciary duty as the company’s reinsurance broker and causing $35 million in damages, the appellate court squarely held for the first time that an insurance broker cannot be sued for breach of fiduciary duty in the state. Guy Carpenter prevailed after a three-week jury trial in 2008 and recovered costs against Workmen’s of more than $600,000. On appeal, Workmen’s did not dispute the trial verdict, but complained that the trial judge had improperly dismissed the breach of fiduciary duty claim before trial, had improperly granted a summary adjudication motion on another claim and had not permitted an eve-of-trial amendment to the complaint. The appellate court rejected all of Workmen’s arguments in its unanimous opinion. The opinion’s holding on breach of fiduciary duty is expected to become the seminal decision in that area of law.

Hannover America Reinsurance Company — Represented Aetna Life Insurance Company in connection with major health insurance reinsurance transaction with Hannover America Reinsurance Company.

ING — Briefed and argued to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit for the prevailing party in Enron Creditors Recovery Corp. v. Alfa, S.A.B. de C.V., ING VP Balanced Portfolio, Inc., and ING VP Bond Portfolio, Inc., providing further assurance to investors in commercial paper that their secondary market transactions in the paper of a distressed issuer will not be unwound. The court held that Bankruptcy Code § 546(e), which protects a “settlement payment” from a bankruptcy trustee’s avoidance powers, applied to three holders of Enron’s commercial paper which, in the weeks leading up to the Enron bankruptcy filing, and before the paper had matured, sold it through a securities clearing agency to a broker-dealer, who then transferred the paper back to Enron. Enron had sought to avoid the payments made to these holders as fraudulent conveyances and preferential transfers. The Second Circuit’s decision thus upholds an important ruling by the Southern District of New York concerning the immunity from later bankruptcy attack of securities settlements made with distressed borrowers through securities clearing houses. The decision represents a second straight appellate victory.

MassMutual — Representing MassMutual in more than 25 lawsuits, including putative class actions relating to the infamous Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme. The plaintiffs are investors in one or more hedge funds offered by Tremont Group Holdings, which placed funds with Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities (MassMutual is the ultimate parent of Tremont). The lawsuits seek to hold MassMutual liable for the alleged errors Tremont made by placing funds with Madoff.

Travelers — Resolved a major insurance coverage dispute for Travelers. The case arose out of nearly 30,000 underlying silica and asbestos bodily injury claims brought against Lone Star Industries Inc. In 2004, Lone Star’s primary insurer sued Lone Star and 35 of its excess carriers, including Travelers, seeking reimbursement for $60 million paid in defense and indemnity costs. After years of litigation in the Connecticut Complex Litigation Docket (and an interlocutory appeal to the Connecticut Supreme Court), and after weeks of intense negotiations, on the eve of trial Lone Star and its insurers entered into agreements settling the past cost claims and agreeing to a mechanism for handling future asbestos and silica claims.

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