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District Court Refused to Enforce a Default Judgment Against Romanian Bank

In this action, General Star and Administratia, a previously state-owned insurance company, were parties to a series of reinsurance contracts from 1974 to 1981. In 1991, the communist government in Romania fell and a new capitalistic regime assumed power. In the process, the state-owned insurance company was dissolved and was succeeded, in part, by various entities. After the money owed to General Star was not paid, General Star sued the entities that assumed the operations of the state run insurance company. When the parties did not respond to the lawsuit, General Star applied for and received a default judgment against the entities.

Administratia moved to vacate the default judgment on the grounds of lack of subject matter jurisdiction together with insufficient service of process. The court in that action vacated the judgment against two of the entities but not Administratia. Soon thereafter, General Star began post-judgment collection efforts that included seizing assets from various entities including the Romanian Government and Administratia. Despite these efforts, General Star was still unable to collect the proceeds.

In one of its final attempts, General Star submitted a writ of execution and successor-liability claims in New York against a Romanian bank on the basis it was an alter ego of the Romanian government at the time the contracts were issued. The District Court refused to allow a judgment against the Romanian Bank on the grounds that General Star failed to produce sufficient facts to demonstrate an alter-ego relationship at the time the contracts were executed.

IMPACT (REINSURANCE): This is a unique set of circumstances arising from the fall of the communist regime in that the case addressed the issue of determining an insurance carrier’s obligations when it was dissolved because of political reasons. Voluntarily dissolving an reinsurer posed several interesting legal issues. Traditionally, a reinsurer usually becomes insolvent through normal business practices and underlying insurers and cedents generally have the necessary safeguards to address such a situation within the arbitration agreement.


All content © 2020 Goldberg Segalla LLPNational Law Review, Volume , Number 173


About this Author

Jeffrey L. Kingsley, Goldberg Segalla, Insurance attorney

Jeffrey Kingsley maintains an international practice that focuses on matters involving insurance and reinsurance coverage, commercial and regulatory issues, and extra-contractual liability arbitration and litigation. As a leader in Goldberg Segalla’s reinsurance practice he has extensive experience handling and consulting clients on complex reinsurance allocation issues, regulatory issues, arbitrations, transactional issues, and disputes involving the follow-the-fortunes doctrine.

Jeff provides comprehensive legal representation for Fortune 500 companies, insurers,...

Thomas F. Segalla, Insurance Attorney, Goldberg Segalla Law Firm

Thomas F. Segalla, is the co-author of the renowned insurance law treatise Couch on Insurance 3d and is one of the founding partners of the firm.  Mr. Segalla is a nationally recognized reinsurance and insurance expert who has been retained by numerous insurance carriers and policyholders.  His active practice focuses on the defense and insurance coverage aspects of matters involving bad faith; construction site personal injury accidents (Labor Law §§ 200, 240(1) and 241(6)); and toxic tort and environmental issues. As a member of the Defense Research Institute (DRI),...