Insurance Class Action Litigation

Overview                                                                                                                                                                                   

Robinson+Cole has defended insurers in more than 50 putative class actions, including cases involving coverage, claim handling, compliance with insurance statutes and regulations, underwriting, and other issues. We have defended insurers as lead national counsel in class actions across the country, including cases in Arkansas, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Missouri, New York, Oklahoma, and Texas.

The firm successfully petitioned the United States Supreme Court to grant certiorari and was co-counsel on the merits in Standard Fire Insurance Company v. Knowles, 133 S. Ct. 1345 (2013), in which the Court rejected a plaintiff's attempt to evade federal jurisdiction by stipulating that the amount sought would not exceed the $5 million threshold under the Class Action Fairness Act.

Our Services

Our deep knowledge of insurance, together with class action law, has enabled us to resolve many insurance class actions swiftly and efficiently, achieving cost savings for our clients. Our extensive experience with insurance coverage issues, policy forms, insurance statutes and regulations, and industry business practices enables us to develop innovative strategies for dispositive motions or other means of achieving early resolution of putative class actions. We have also assisted insurers and insurance industry associations in efforts to shape the law in appellate courts nationwide.

Our Team

Our Class Action Team combines extensive experience with class action litigation with deep knowledge of the insurance industry. We are leaders in the national class action defense bar, having chaired the class action groups of the Defense Research Institute and the Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel. Wystan Ackerman’s blog, Class Actions Insider (formerly insuranceclassactions.com), follows developments in class action law nationwide, with a focus on the insurance industry. We are also leading advocates for the insurance industry, regularly representing insurers in complex and precedent-setting insurance coverage litigation nationwide. We have been at the forefront of the high-profile insurance litigation arising from the September 11 catastrophe, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Chinese Drywall, and Storm Sandy, among other matters.

 
    • Experience
      • Knowles v. Standard Fire Insurance Company 133 S. Ct. 1345 (Supreme Court of the United States, 2013)— This appeal was heard by the Supreme Court of the United States and resulted in a 9-0 opinion in favor of our client. Our petition for certiorari was granted by the Supreme Court after the Eighth Circuit had declined to hear a discretionary appeal and after the Supreme Court had denied a petition for certiorari on the same issue the year before. This is the first case in which the Supreme Court granted review under the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005. The issue on appeal was whether a named plaintiff in a putative class action can defeat federal jurisdiction under the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 by stipulating to limit damages to $5 million or less even if the amount potentially recoverable by the putative class would exceed the federal jurisdictional amount in the absence of the stipulation. The Supreme Court accepted our argument that the federal court jurisdiction could not be defeated by such a stipulation. The underlying case involved the alleged failure to pay the general contractor overhead and profit as part of the settlement of property insurance claims and was voluntarily dismissed by the plaintiff after the case was remanded to the federal district court.

      • Successfully represented insurer in a series of putative class actions in six different jurisdictions involving market conduct/claim handling practices. All were resolved either on a dispositive motion or by settlement of the class representative's individual claims. Successfully conducted a three-day evidentiary hearing on class certification in a Florida state court, which resulted in a decision denying class certification that was affirmed on appeal. 

      • Successfully represented insurer in putative class action in Arkansas federal court alleging improper depreciation of labor costs on property insurance claims. After completion of depositions, case resulted in a voluntary dismissal with prejudice by the plaintiffs with no payment by our client.

      • Successfully represented insurer in putative class action in the Northern District of Florida involving allegations that the insurer overcharged for building ordinance and law coverage and failed to comply with a Florida statute. The district court granted our motion to dismiss, and the Eleventh Circuit affirmed.

      • Successfully represented insurer in putative class action in New York Supreme Court in Manhattan, alleging that insurer improperly failed to apply the “made whole” doctrine with respect to subrogation recoveries. The trial court granted our motion to dismiss, the Appellate Division, First Department affirmed, and the New York Court of Appeals denied leave to appeal.

      • Successfully represented insurer in Kentucky federal court in putative class action alleging improper depreciation of labor costs on property insurance claims. In response to our motion to strike the class action allegations on the pleadings, the plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed the case, with no payment by our client.

      • Successfully represented insurer in Oklahoma federal court in putative class action alleging that insurer’s claim department practices and employment compensation practices for claim professionals caused underpayment of claims. After the court granted our motion to strike the class action allegations, the plaintiff agreed to voluntarily dismiss the case with prejudice.

      • Successfully defended insurer in a case brought in the Central District of California in which the plaintiff sought to bring a class action involving two classes of allegedly aggrieved policyholders. The first class was allegedly deprived of payment of general contractor overhead and profit as a part of its damages. The second class was allegedly deprived of payment of sales tax as a part of its damages. After extensive discovery and motion practice, the class action allegations were voluntarily dismissed and the case was resolved on favorable terms.

      • Served on the defendants' steering committee, taking a lead role in a putative class action filed by the Louisiana attorney general against over 200 insurers involving the Louisiana Road Home program established after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

      • Successfully represented insurers in high-profile putative class actions in the Eastern District of Louisiana arising out of Hurricane Katrina involving the enforceability of water damage exclusions and the applicability of the Louisiana Valued Policy Law. The potential exposure for the insurance industry in the event of adverse results was estimated to be in excess of $3 billion. Robinson + Cole lawyers took a lead role in briefing the central legal issues, which were resolved in favor of the insurance industry by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and the Louisiana Supreme Court.

      • Successfully represented insurer in putative class action in the Northern District of Florida involving the applicability of the Florida Valued Policy Law to claims arising out of the 2004 hurricanes. Successfully obtained an order striking the class allegations. 

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    • News
      • April 17, 2015

        Wystan Ackerman Addresses Insurance Class Actions in Law360 Article

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      • October 21, 2013

        Super Lawyers® Names 61 Robinson & Cole Attorneys to 2013 List

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        • View article
      • March 21, 2013

        U.S. Supreme Court Decision in Standard Fire Insurance Company v. Knowles, A Class Action Fairness Act Case

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      • October 22, 2012

        Super Lawyers® Names 49 Robinson & Cole Attorneys to 2012 List and Recognizes 26 as Rising Stars

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      • March 14, 2012

        Robinson & Cole Attorneys Successfully Move to Strike Class Action Count

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      • February 1, 2012

        Environmental Partner Chairs ABA Panel on Environmental Class Actions

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      • December 29, 2011

        Wystan Ackerman Authors Book Chapter on Defending Products Liability Class Actions

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      • December 14, 2011

        “Insurance Class Actions Insider” Recognized as a Top Blawg

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      • September 1, 2011

        In Wake of Hurricane Irene: Five Tips for Insurance Carriers

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      • May 9, 2011

        Insurance Class Actions Blog Analyzes Impact of Recent Supreme Court Cases

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      • April 6, 2010

        Robinson & Cole Attorney Quoted in Hartford Business Journal on Recently Announced Southern Connecticut Bancorp, Inc. Merger

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