In naming the IFDA officers and board of directors as individual defendants in their lawsuit, the Calvert group sought to make these individuals accountable for management of the association’s master trust. Members of a board of directors have a duty to act in the best interests of the organization. Defenses against personal liability are afforded the board member so long as he/she has acted reasonably, diligently and in good faith, even when the organization suffers a catastrophic loss as a result of the board’s decisions. However, what defenses were afforded the IFDA board members are now compromised by the lawsuit filed by the Association’s liability carrier, and the outcome could have a chilling effect on new board members’ efforts to do the right thing.
Funeral Service Insider and Chicago Tribune have reported a limited number of facts, but the liability carrier seems to be challenging coverage of the IFDA for the Association’s failure to provide timely notice of “the claim”. Federal Insurance Company cites the June 21, 2006 letter from the Illinois Comptroller’s office as the event that gave rise to the claim.
The IFDA has valid issues to raise in opposition to the carrier’s assertions, but litigation moves slowly. In the meantime, prospective candidates to the IFDA board of directors must weigh their personal exposure to this situation. Doing the right thing may not be enough for some who have been injured by the master trust’s decline in value.
Other state associations should take from this latest IFDA development the need to review their liability insurance policies and to timely report all potential claims.