Interpreting Hawaii law, the federal district court held that the standard for triggering the duty to defend is the same as the standard for the duty to advance costs under a D&O policy. Maui Land & Pineapple Co. v. Liberty Ins. Underwriters, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 56949 (D. Haw. April 3, 2018).
The underlying plaintiffs sued 22 defendants, including Maui Land Pineapple (MLP) and Ryan L. Churchill, concerning a residential development project known as The Ritz-Carlton Club & Residences. The underlying complaint alleged that MLP "directly or indirectly through wholly owned subsidiaries exerts control" over Kapalua Bay, LLC, the defendant in the underlying lawsuit. Kapalua Bay, LLC was created as a joint venture of which MLP held 51%. Churchill was a senior executive officer of MLP, President of Kapalua Bay, and an executive officer of Kapalua Realty, which participated in all aspects of the Project, such as financing, development, and construction.
In their second amended complaint, the underlying plaintiffs alleged nine Counts against the defendants, including breach of fiduciary duty. It was alleged that defendants were not transparent and kept owners in the dark regarding the status of the project. Several allegations named Churchill individually and described his alleged material misrepresentations to the underlying plaintiffs regarding the project's financing.