Two reinsurance companies have prevailed on motions to dismiss in shareholder securities law putative class actions over the restatements of loss levels from cat events, illustrating that the process of estimating cat losses accurately may be challenging, and that companies are not guarantors of the completeness and accuracy of that process. PXRE prevailed in a lawsuit alleging a scheme to understate losses arising out of a series of hurricanes that devastated the Gulf Coast in 2005, restating the amount of losses several times. Judge Sullivan granted PXRE’s motion to dismiss, finding that plaintiffs “failed to plead that defendants were reckless in not knowing about the flaws in PXRE’s calculation of its loss estimates.” In re PXRE Group, Ltd., Securities Litigation, No. 06 CIV 3410 (S.D.N.Y. March 5, 2009). Judge Sullivan issued an order in a similar individual case filed against PXRE implying that he will follow the same course in that action. Anegada Master Fund Ltd v. PXRE Group Ltd., No. 08 Civ 10584 (S.D.N.Y. March 5, 2009).
Quanta Capital Holdings Ltd. (“Quanta”) issued several estimated loss projections relating to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita that ranged from $42-$68.5 million, resulting in multiple rating downgrades, forcing Quanta to cease writing new insurance and reinsurance business and to sell its remaining insurance and reinsurance portfolios. Noting the conjectural nature of insurance reserves established for losses that have been incurred but not yet reported, the court ruled that the Complaint did not put forth sufficient factual allegations such that the court could plausibly find that the loss estimate included in the offering documents was a material untruth at the time it was made, especially since the adjusted estimate was based on a single business interruption claim. The district court also held that the Complaint did not meet applicable heightened pleading requirements, and that some of the claims failed because the $68.5 million preliminary loss estimate was protected by the “bespeaks caution” doctrine. Zirkin v. Quanta Capital Holdings Ltd., Case No. 07-851 (USDC S.D.N.Y. Jan. 22, 2009).