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BV News and Trends March 2024

A monthly roundup of key developments of interest to business valuation experts.

What Valuers Should Do While SCOTUS Mulls Connelly

Regardless of how the U.S. Supreme Court rules in the Connelly case, there are some steps valuers can take to better help their client business owners, many of whom could be sitting on ticking time bombs. The issue before SCOTUS is how does corporate-owned life insurance designed to fund the redemption of a deceased shareholder’s stock impact the fair market value of the subject company and the value of the decedent’s gross estate.

Hitchner’s annual review of need-to-know BV topics

Over 500 attendees listened to Jim Hitchner (Valuation Products and Services) do his annual review of recent need-to-know concepts, data, models, and methods in business valuation. Here are a few key points from the two-hour webinar.

Valuation Impact of Corporate-Owned Life Insurance on SCOTUS’ Agenda

The goal of this paper is to inform readers about a valuation issue that is the subject of a petition put before the United States Supreme Court to resolve a circuit split. The issue is how does corporate-owned life insurance designed to fund the redemption of a deceased shareholder’s stock impact the fair market value of the subject company and the value of the decedent’s gross estate. The author examines the applicable U.S. Tax Court, district court, and two appellate decisions so the reader can understand the arguments made and the basis for the legal conclusions.

Connelly case kicks off Heckerling conference

At the Heckerling Institute on Estate Planning in Orlando, Fla., earlier this month, the first session was a panel on key court cases of 2023, and “valuation was top of mind for many federal courts,” according to coverage in WealthManagement.com.

Grabowski analyzes COLI valuation issue SCOTUS will decide

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case involving a valuation issue in order to resolve a circuit split.

Dentists Ins. Co. v. Yousefian

The plaintiff insurance company in this damages case waived work product protection when the plaintiff’s expert disclosed alleged “secret” information to the defendant’s expert. The court required disclosure.

Plaintiff’s Expert Waives Work Product Protection

The plaintiff insurance company in this damages case waived work product protection when the plaintiff’s expert disclosed alleged “secret” information to the defendant’s expert. The court required disclosure.

Stout Risius Ross, LLC v. Aspen Specialty Ins. Co.

Stout Risius Ross LLC asked for a declaratory judgment to require Aspen Specialty Insurance Co. to defend Stout Risius Ross in a lawsuit brought against it by its former client, Wilmington Trust, in an ESOP matter. Stout Risius Ross performed a valuation for an ESOP transaction that the court later criticized in that matter (Brundle). After being sued by Wilmington Trust, Stout Risius Ross filed a claim with Aspen, which was denied by Aspen, citing the “prior knowledge” clause. The court denied Stout Risius Ross’ motion for declaratory judgment and did not allow Stout Risius Ross to amend its motion.

U.S. District Court Dismisses Accounting Firm’s Plea to Require Insurance Company to Defend a Lawsuit Against It

Stout Risius Ross LLC asked for a declaratory judgment to require Aspen Specialty Insurance Co. to defend Stout Risius Ross in a lawsuit brought against it by its former client, Wilmington Trust, in an ESOP matter. Stout Risius Ross performed a valuation for an ESOP transaction that the court later criticized in that matter (Brundle). After being sued by Wilmington Trust, Stout Risius Ross filed a claim with Aspen, which was denied by Aspen, citing the “prior knowledge” clause. The court denied Stout Risius Ross’ motion for declaratory judgment and did not allow Stout Risius Ross to amend its motion.

What It's Worth: Valuing Insurance Agencies

September 2021 PDF

BVR (editor)

Business Valuation Resources, LLC

What It’s Worth: Valuing Insurance Agencies takes a deep dive into the unique considerations for insurance agency and brokerage valuation – as well as the long-term outlook for consumer preferences and financial performance. The report draws upon the best data and industry sources available, summarizes key insights and appraisal factors, and will help guide your professional judgment in determining a conclusion of value that is as reliable as ever. Learn more >>

Malpractice Insurer Not Required to Defend Valuation Firm for Claim Alleging Securities Fraud

This case featured a motion to dismiss a claim from an insured that the plaintiff, Great American, was required to defend the defendant, Stout, against a claim by ESOP plaintiffs that Stout committed “federal securities fraud.” While the Great American policy covered valuation services, the policy also featured an exclusion for claims against the insured for securities violations.

Great Am. Fid. Ins. Co. v. Stout Risius Ross, Inc.

This case featured a motion to dismiss a claim from an insured that the plaintiff, Great American, was required to defend the defendant, Stout, against a claim by ESOP plaintiffs that Stout committed “federal securities fraud.” While the Great American policy covered valuation services, the policy also featured an exclusion for claims against the insured for securities violations.

King v. King

This divorce case appeal deals with three primary issues: the determination of the value of insurance agency marital asset, the determination of the amount of personal goodwill attaching to the insurance agency, and the appropriate amount of alimony. The court remands the value of the business as it relates to the exclusion by the trial court of the liabilities the business owed, remands as to the appropriate amount of personal goodwill, and remands as to the erroneous level of income of the husband for determination of alimony.

Florida Trial Court’s Valuation Findings, Including Personal Goodwill Determination, Do Not Hold Up Under Appeals Court Scrutiny

This divorce case appeal deals with three primary issues: the determination of the value of insurance agency marital asset, the determination of the amount of personal goodwill attaching to the insurance agency, and the appropriate amount of alimony. The court remands the value of the business as it relates to the exclusion by the trial court of the liabilities the business owed, remands as to the appropriate amount of personal goodwill, and remands as to the erroneous level of income of the husband for determination of alimony.

Court Declines Motion to Dismiss Claim of Coverage for Loss of Income, but Dismisses the Claim of Coverage Under the Civil Authority Provision

In this business interruption case resulting from mandatory shutdowns to control COVID-19, the court declined to grant a motion to dismiss the claim of plaintiff as to coverage for loss of business income but does dismiss the claim of coverage under the civil authority provision of the policy. The court found the wording of the policy sufficiently vague, especially as to the meaning and definition of the word “loss.” In the case of the civil authority provision of the policy, the court decided that plaintiff has not alleged that “[a]ccess to the area immediately surrounding the damaged property is prohibited by civil authority.”

Derek Scott Williams PLLC v. Cincinnati Ins. Co.

In this business interruption case resulting from mandatory shutdowns to control COVID-19, the court declined to grant a motion to dismiss the claim of plaintiff as to coverage for loss of business income but does dismiss the claim of coverage under the civil authority provision of the policy. The court found the wording of the policy sufficiently vague, especially as to the meaning and definition of the word “loss.” In the case of the civil authority provision of the policy, the court decided that plaintiff has not alleged that “[a]ccess to the area immediately surrounding the damaged property is prohibited by civil authority.”

Court Grants Insurance Company’s Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff’s Complaint That It Suffered Covered Loss of Income Due to COVID-19 Restrictions

In this business interruption case resulting from mandatory restrictions to control COVID-19, the court grants a motion to dismiss claims of the plaintiff. The plaintiff’s arguments that it suffered physical loss or damage to its properties did not sway the court. Nor did its arguments that the civil authority provisions and virus exclusion in the policy were not applicable to deny its claims.

Equity Planning Corp. v. Westfield Ins. Co.

In this business interruption case resulting from mandatory restrictions to control COVID-19, the court grants a motion to dismiss claims of the plaintiff. The plaintiff’s arguments that it suffered physical loss or damage to its properties did not sway the court. Nor did its arguments that the civil authority provisions and virus exclusion in the policy were not applicable to deny its claims.

In COVID-19 Case, Federal Court Declines to Decide Contentious ‘Direct Physical Loss’ Issue and Sends Case Back to State Court

In this business interruption case resulting from mandatory shutdowns to control COVID-19, the federal court grants the plaintiffs’ motion to remand the action back to Minnesota state court to resolve the disputed issue of what qualifies as direct physical loss under state law.

Life Time, Inc. v. Zurich Am. Ins. Co.

In this business interruption case resulting from mandatory shutdowns to control COVID-19, the federal court grants the plaintiffs’ motion to remand the action back to Minnesota state court to resolve the disputed issue of what qualifies as direct physical loss under state law.

Court Dismisses Plaintiff’s COVID-19-Related Suit, Noting Claimed Loss of Use of Properties Is Not Direct Physical Loss Under the Relevant Policy

In this business interruption case resulting from mandatory shutdowns to control COVID-19, a federal court granted the defendant insurer’s motion to dismiss plaintiff’s suit over coverage, finding plaintiff’s claim for loss of income based on state orders restricting use does not meet “direct physical loss” prerequisite.

Court Finds Insurance Policies Are Not Ambiguous as to ‘Physical Loss’ Requirement and Dismisses Plaintiffs’ COVID-19-Related Damages Claims

In this business interruption case resulting from mandatory shutdowns to control COVID-19, the court grants the defendant insurance company’s motion to dismiss plaintiffs’ complaint seeking coverage for lost business income under their insurance policies. Plaintiffs operated a hotel and adjacent banquet and catering facility. In ruling against the plaintiffs, the court found the virus did not perceptibly harm the properties and the policies included a virus exclusion that prevented coverage of business losses.

Family Tacos, LLC v. Auto Owners Ins. Co.

In this business interruption case resulting from mandatory shutdowns to control COVID-19, the court grants motions of the defendant to dismiss claims of the plaintiff. The plaintiff files claims for coverage under its insurance policy for losses resulting from COVID-19 shutdowns and seeks to establish a class. The court decides that coverage is not provided under the policy because there is no physical loss; the civil authority provision is likewise not effective, and there is a virus exception that is applicable to the case at hand.

MIKMAR, Inc. v. Westfield Ins. Co.

In this business interruption case resulting from mandatory shutdowns to control COVID-19, the court grants the defendant insurance company’s motion to dismiss plaintiffs’ complaint seeking coverage for lost business income under their insurance policies. Plaintiffs operated a hotel and adjacent banquet and catering facility. In ruling against the plaintiffs, the court found the virus did not perceptibly harm the properties and the policies included a virus exclusion that prevented coverage of business losses.

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