The total count of new cases tracked by Advisen that may be covered by D&O insurance was down in 2017 from 2016, according to data presented during Advisen’s D&O claims trends end-of-year webinar.
When looking specifically at shareholder risks, which include securities class action suits, merger objection suits, derivative shareholder suits and a variety of other suits brought by shareholders, the number of filings has remained fairly constant over the past four years.
Behind this general consistency in shareholder risks, however, there has been a fair amount of change year-to-year in terms of the different case types.
For example, merger objection cases saw a 28 percent rise in the number of companies sued in 2017 from 2016. Securities class actions (SCA) also rose roughly six percent in 2017. Conversely, the number of companies involved in derivative shareholder action cases went down by 16 percent.
Kevin LaCroix, executive vice president at RT ProExec, a division of RT Specialty and a regular panelist on the webinar, said he didn’t see much driving the increase in SCA litigation other than a more active plaintiffs’ bar.
“When analyzing the 2017 SCA litigation data, there were a lot of things in the numbers such as a significant amount of litigation against life sciences companies, a lot of activity involving foreign domicile companies, and activities involving IPO companies that weren’t necessarily different from prior years,” said Lacroix.
Machua Millett, managing director and chief innovation officer at Marsh, agreed there was not a lot of difference in terms of drivers but found some similarities in the 2017 numbers compared with 2009.
“If you go back eight years and look at the end of 2008 and into the first quarter of 2009, you had a similar situation where you had a spike in the first quarter,” said Millett. “What do the first quarter of 2009 and the first quarter of 2017 have in common? It’s a new administration, a new president, and some fairly significant changes in terms of federal government policy that I think create some sort of stock market uncertainty.”