Skip to Content

Win for MassMutual in Rare Class Action Trial

A California jury recently returned a verdict in favor of MassMutual following a 12-day trial in a state-court class action that claimed the insurer failed to pay dividends owed to policy owners.

Named plaintiff Christina Chavez claimed that MassMutual failed to determine whether the participating life insurance policies in the class were sufficiently profitable to trigger the requirement that owners receive a portion of MassMutual’s divisible surplus (excess profits). She asserted that MassMutual never even bothered to run the calculations required to determine whether dividends should have been paid. MassMutual responded that the policies at issue never generated enough profit to trigger dividends.

A pivotal issue in the trial was a battle between the experts for the class and the insurer. According to the class’ expert, MassMutual owed the plaintiffs somewhere between $500,000 and $700,000. MassMutual’s experts, however, asserted that the company did not owe the class any additional dividends. MassMutual focused on discrediting the expert for the class and his methods.

Those efforts paid off. The jury concluded that the plaintiffs had failed to prove that their policies were profitable enough to trigger MassMutual’s duty to pay them dividends. Interestingly, the special verdict form used by the jury suggests that it agreed with the plaintiffs’ assertion that MassMutual did not even run the calculations to determine whether the class members were entitled to dividends. That did not matter, however. MassMutual persuaded the jury that it had since performed the required calculations and found that no dividends were owed. 

©2024 Carlton Fields, P.A. Carlton Fields practices law in California through Carlton Fields, LLP. Carlton Fields publications should not be construed as legal advice on any specific facts or circumstances. The contents are intended for general information and educational purposes only, and should not be relied on as if it were advice about a particular fact situation. The distribution of this publication is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship with Carlton Fields. This publication may not be quoted or referred to in any other publication or proceeding without the prior written consent of the firm, to be given or withheld at our discretion. To request reprint permission for any of our publications, please use our Contact Us form via the link below. The views set forth herein are the personal views of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the firm. This site may contain hypertext links to information created and maintained by other entities. Carlton Fields does not control or guarantee the accuracy or completeness of this outside information, nor is the inclusion of a link to be intended as an endorsement of those outside sites.


The information on this website is presented as a service for our clients and Internet users and is not intended to be legal advice, nor should you consider it as such. Although we welcome your inquiries, please keep in mind that merely contacting us will not establish an attorney-client relationship between us. Consequently, you should not convey any confidential information to us until a formal attorney-client relationship has been established. Please remember that electronic correspondence on the internet is not secure and that you should not include sensitive or confidential information in messages. With that in mind, we look forward to hearing from you.