The Fifth Circuit overturned a U.S. District Court’s approval of a settlement between Ralph Janvey, the Receiver for Stanford International Bank, and various insurance company Underwriters, under which the Underwriters had agreed to pay $65 million to the Stanford Receivership estate. Writing for the Court, Judge Edith H. Jones held that the District Court abused its discretion in approving the settlement because the injunction issued by the District Court (referred to as a “bar order”) nullified claims by third-party coinsureds to policy proceeds without an alternative compensation scheme. The settlement also improperly released third-party tort and statutory claims against the Underwriters that the estate did not own.
The Stanford Financial Ponzi scheme defrauded more than 18,000 investors who collectively lost over $5 billion. The proposed settlement was intended to end years of litigation between the Receiver and the Underwriters with respect to insurance coverage under policies issued to Stanford entities. The Underwriters disputed the amount of available coverage and also contended that various policy exclusions applied. The proposed settlement contained the following terms: