Bankruptcies from asbestos, corporate scandals, and mass torts today have a dramatic impact on the insurance industry. We have increasingly focused on the interplay between insurance coverage disputes and policyholder bankruptcy. In light of aggressive initiatives by claimant and policyholder counsel in recent years, policyholder bankruptcy has far more than a technical impact on an insurer's exposure, potentially implicating broader coverage, reopening pre-bankruptcy settlements, and resulting in the massive acceleration of obligations that would otherwise arise over time. Wiley Rein Insurance and Bankruptcy attorneys have the expertise and experience to help insurers develop and implement effective, innovative strategies to manage the challenges and opportunities in reorganization and liquidation cases of all sizes. Our attorneys regularly represent insurers and insurance industry organizations in major policyholder bankruptcy proceedings and in coverage litigation and counseling matters related to insolvent insureds.
Wiley Rein Insurance lawyers work closely with attorneys from our Bankruptcy & Financial Restructuring Practice. Through hands-on collaboration, lawyers in both groups have developed expertise in each other's discipline and in the distinctive issues emerging in asbestos and other insurance-sensitive bankruptcies.
Insurers look to Wiley Rein in connection with liability claims brought by debtors-in-possession, bankruptcy trustees, creditors' committees, and other bankruptcy constituencies. We also routinely handle coverage and parallel coverage litigation in bankruptcy courts throughout the country. Our attorneys counsel insurers regarding the challenging procedural issues and forum conflicts, and other substantive issues, that arise when a corporate policyholder is in financial distress, including the impact of the automatic stay on claim handling, challenges to payouts as preferences, coverage issues, and underlying and coverage litigation. We also develop and execute strategies for the long-term resolution of environmental, mass tort, and other delayed-manifestation claims, including acting as insurer advocates in reorganization or liquidation plan negotiation, drafting, and approval.
Recent matters include:
- Representing the insurance industry as amicus curiae in the appeal of a decision denying insurer participation in the approval of Fuller-Austin's chapter 11 reorganization plan.
- Representing a professional liability insurer in a rescission lawsuit filed against a bankrupt insured and numerous directors and officers and successfully negotiating a settlement of the lawsuit, which resulted in the rescission of the policy in return for the repayment of the premium.
- Representing a general liability insurer in connection with the massive PPG/Pittsburgh Corning Industries bankruptcy case and acting as an advocate for insurer interests in the bankruptcy process, including the plan negotiation and approval and claim resolution.
- Successfully representing a general liability insurer in an asbestos-related bankruptcy in which the debtor sought to void a prior settlement agreement.
- Representing an aviation insurer's creditor interests in the bankruptcy proceedings of several major airlines.
ISSUE: FEBRUARY 2014