Monday, July 1, 2019

No. 320: Greg Lindberg—The North Carolina Department of Insurance Places Four of His Companies in Rehabilitation

On Thursday, June 27, 2019, four documents relating to Greg Lindberg's insurance companies were filed in a state court in North Carolina. The documents, which are in the complimentary package offered at the end of this post, were filed between 1:17 and 1:48 that afternoon. At 2:48, reporters Leslie Scism and Mark Maremont of The Wall Street Journal posted an article entitled "North Carolina Regulators Seize Control of Life Insurers Owned by Greg Lindberg." They posted an updated version at 6:17. Here I discuss the developments and mention briefly what is happening in a related federal criminal case.

The Verified Petition
One state court document is a "Verified Petition for an Order of Rehabilitation, and Order Appointing Receiver, and Injunctive Relief." The petitioner is Mike Causey, the North Carolina commissioner of insurance. The respondents are Southland National Insurance Corporation, Southland National Reinsurance Corporation, Bankers Life Insurance Company, and Colorado Bankers Life Insurance Company. The respondents are licensed in North Carolina, their principal place of business is in Durham, North Carolina, and Lindberg is the controlling shareholder.

The petition says the commissioner was concerned about the respondents' liquidity. On October 18, 2018, the commissioner and the respondents entered into a consent order for administrative supervision for 120 days. On February 5, 2019, they entered into an amended consent order for administrative supervision for an additional 120 days. On April 4, 2019, they entered into a second amended consent order for administrative supervision, and agreed that appointment of a receiver was necessary for the protection of the respondents' policyholders. The commissioner asked the court to enter an order of rehabilitation naming him the rehabilitator.

The Rehabilitation Order
Another state court document is an "Order of Rehabilitation, Order Appointing Receiver, and Order Granting Injunctive Relief." Senior Resident Wake County Court Judge Paul Ridgeway appointed the commissioner as the rehabilitator and the receiver, issued an injunction against interference with the rehabilitation, and required the rehabilitator to provide quarterly reports to the court.

The Moratorium Motion
Another state court document is a "Motion for Moratorium on Policy Surrenders and Other Relief." The North Carolina attorney general's office asked the court to issue an order granting a moratorium on cash surrenders, annuitizations, and policy loans, and ordering development of a plan for policyholders with legitimate hardship claims.

The Moratorium Order
Another state court document is an "Order Granting Motion for Moratorium on Policy Surrenders and Other Relief." Judge Ridgeway granted the motion and ordered the rehabilitator to adopt a moratorium and implement a policy for legitimate hardship claims.

Secrecy of the Consent Orders
When I asked the North Carolina Department of Insurance for the state court documents, a spokesperson provided them promptly. When I saw them, I requested the three consent orders referred to in the verified petition. The spokesperson said the consent orders are confidential pursuant to Section 58-30-70 of the North Carolina General Statutes. That section reads:
Confidentiality of hearings. In all proceedings and judicial reviews thereof under G.S. 58-30-60 and G.S. 58-30-65, all records of the insurer, other documents, and all Department files and Court records and papers, insofar as they pertain to or are part of the records of the proceedings, shall be and remain confidential except as necessary to obtain compliance therewith, unless the Court, after hearing arguments from the parties in chambers, orders otherwise; or unless the insurer requests that the matter be made public. Until such Court order, all papers filed with the clerk of the Court shall be held by him in a confidential file.
The section does not mention consent orders, and I do not recall any consent order being deemed confidential. I do not plan to appeal the denial. However, I would welcome comments from readers with legal experience in freedom-of-information matters.

The Federal Criminal Case
In No. 309 (April 17, 2019), I posted an item about a federal grand jury indictment of Greg Lindberg and three others for criminal wrongdoing. On April 2, the court unsealed the indictment. On April 3, a docket call was set for July 1. On May 2, the docket call was reset to July 15. Initially the case was assigned to District Judge Max O. Cogburn, Jr. On June 17, the case was reassigned to District Judge Kenneth D. Bell. On June 27, the case was reassigned back to Judge Cogburn and the docket call was reset to September 16. (See U.S.A. v. Lindberg, U.S. District Court, Western District of North Carolina, Case No. 5-19-cr-22.)

General Observations
I plan to follow developments in the rehabilitation proceedings related to Lindberg's insurance companies, and in the proceedings related to the federal criminal case against Lindberg and three others. I anticipate that the proceedings will be lengthy.

Available Material
I am offering a complimentary 46-page PDF consisting of the verified petition (25 pages), the rehabilitation order (9 pages), the moratorium motion (7 pages), and the moratorium order (5 pages). Email and ask for the July 2019 Lindberg package.