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Life, Annuity, and Retirement Litigation


Overview

For close to three decades, we have been at the forefront of defending life insurance and annuity issuers and other financial services companies in every major genre of litigation affecting the industry. Such representation includes national litigation challenging the determination of cost of insurance rates and other non-guaranteed elements, "vanishing premium" and other life insurance and annuity sales practices/market conduct cases, ERISA fiduciary duty suits, and litigation over lender-placed insurance. Our lawyers not only understand the legal issues relevant to these cases but also have a deep background in our clients' products, business practices, and regulatory challenges. We work closely with our colleagues in other practice areas, including the firm's Financial Services - Regulatory, Class Actions, and Securities and Derivative Litigation practices, to ensure we bring the highest level of expertise to every matter.

As a result, the industry knows us well. Our lawyers have represented the vast majority of the top 25 life and annuity companies (by assets) in class action and high-stakes individual product cases. The firm has represented dozens of national and international insurers in hundreds of class actions throughout the United States. Indeed, our clients have consistently recognized us as among the top "go-to" firms for national class action and high-stakes litigation for the life insurance industry.

We have appeared as lead counsel in state and federal courts in nearly every state, including in appeals in all 12 of the federal circuit courts of appeal and the U.S. Supreme Court. But we are not simply litigators: our lawyers are prepared to try cases. We defended as lead counsel what is believed to be the largest jury trial of a certified national class action involving the life insurance industry, a case involving a nationwide class of approximately 400,000 annuity contract holders seeking $2 billion in damages, in which the jury returned a verdict for our client.
 

  • Cost of Insurance and Other Challenges to Non-Guaranteed Element Determinations
    • We have extensive experience defending the life insurance industry in matters involving challenges to insurers' determinations regarding the cost of insurance (COI) rates in fixed and variable universal life insurance policies, including litigation regarding COI rate increases. 
    • We have defended against challenges to insurers' exercises of discretion with regard to other non-guaranteed elements, e.g., interest/dividend crediting, and expense allocation-related claims.


    Learn more about our experience defending life insurers against challenges to their exercises of discretion in setting non-guaranteed elements.

  • Sales Practices - Market Conduct Litigation
    • Our litigators have wide-ranging experience defending insurers in lawsuits alleging the improper sale or marketing of life insurance and annuity products. 
    • Our attorneys have dismissed, settled, and won trial victories in class actions claiming, inter alia, that the sales of annuities and long-term care policies were misleading; that life insurance policies were marketed as having "vanishing premiums" and/or were improperly replaced; that the insurer allegedly violated the TCPA; and that plans were improperly sold as complying with IRS Sections 412(i) and 409.

     

    Learn more about our experience defending life insurance and financial services companies against sales practices and other market conduct claims.

  • ERISA Fiduciary Duty Litigation
    • The firm's practice in this area is devoted to representing insurers, financial institutions, and employee benefit plan sponsors in the areas of class action and other complex litigation, financial product development, regulatory compliance, and regulatory monitoring and advocacy. 
    • We have extensive experience litigating fiduciary and prohibited transaction claims, as well as other alleged violations of ERISA and other federal and state laws in connection with the management of pension or welfare plan funds, the provision of trust, custodial, actuarial, accounting, and other services to plans, and the administration of employee benefit claims. 
       

    Learn more about our experience defending financial services companies against ERISA claims.

  • Lender-Placed Insurance Litigation
    • Competing groups of class action lawyers have filed approximately 150 high-profile class actions in venues all across the United States challenging aspects of lender-placed insurance programs (LPI). A team of our lawyers have represented the largest LPI underwriting group of specialty insurers, and several banks and servicers, in defending these cases. 
    • In addition to achieving early dismissal of several of these cases (at both the trial and appellate levels), the LPI litigation teams have developed an effective settlement strategy for the defendants, and implemented that strategy in nationwide settlements for most of the major lenders and loan servicers. Trial and appellate courts in numerous jurisdictions have approved these settlements, often over the opposition of experienced objectors.

     

All Insights

Carlton Fields Defends Transamerica in Putative Class Action Involving Long-Term Care Insurance

Carlton Fields Defends Transamerica in Putative Class Action Involving Long-Term Care Insurance

May 10, 2019

The judgment was an appropriate and significant win for the insurance industry.

Court Upholds California Department of Insurance’s Expansive Interpretation of Claims Practices Statute

Court Upholds California Department of Insurance’s Expansive Interpretation of Claims Practices Statute

December 18, 2018

A California appellate court recently reversed the trial court’s decision to enjoin the California Insurance Commissioner from enforcing certain regulations regarding unfair claim settlement practices.

Defendants Not Liable for Insurance Agent’s Ponzi Scheme

Defendants Not Liable for Insurance Agent’s Ponzi Scheme

December 18, 2018

A California appellate court recently affirmed the dismissal of claims against multiple insurers made by victims of a Ponzi scheme that was orchestrated by an independent insurance agent.

Life Insurer’s Early Dispositive Motion Achieves Narrowed Fraud Claim in COI Suit

Life Insurer’s Early Dispositive Motion Achieves Narrowed Fraud Claim in COI Suit

December 18, 2018

A recent decision by a federal district court in Maryland further illustrates the elusive nature of early dismissal of claims in far-reaching suits challenging the cost of insurance rate increases – even when some success is achieved via the rejection of underlying theories of liability.

Class Certification Denied in Suitability Class Action

Class Certification Denied in Suitability Class Action

December 18, 2018

The Southern District of New York recently declined to certify a class in a suit relating to investments in certain closed-end mutual funds, holding that individual questions overwhelmed the class-wide questions in contravention of the typicality and predominance requirements of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23.

Sixth Circuit Holds Employer Has No Duty to Notify of Conversion Options

Sixth Circuit Holds Employer Has No Duty to Notify of Conversion Options

December 18, 2018

The Sixth Circuit recently held that an employer had no duty to notify employees of conversion options in group life insurance policies.

Court Invalidates California Unclaimed Property Law Regulations

Court Invalidates California Unclaimed Property Law Regulations

October 1, 2018

A California state court recently enjoined the state from enforcing two rules adopted by the Office of the State Controller without compliance with the California Administrative Procedure Act (APA) concerning the state’s Unclaimed Property Law (UPL).

Even Disclaiming ‘Magic Words’ Won’t Save Plaintiffs from SLUSA Preclusion

Even Disclaiming ‘Magic Words’ Won’t Save Plaintiffs from SLUSA Preclusion

October 1, 2018

In 2016, a putative class action lawsuit was filed in California state court on behalf of all persons over the age of 60 who were issued a variable annuity policy by defendants within the state.

Louisiana Appeals Court Affirms Class Certification in Lingering Litigation Against Department of Insurance

Louisiana Appeals Court Affirms Class Certification in Lingering Litigation Against Department of Insurance

October 1, 2018

A Louisiana appeals court recently affirmed class certification in consolidated lawsuits, pending since 1991, against Louisiana’s Department of Insurance, other related state entities, and the state’s excess insurance carriers.

SEC Proceedings Face Uncertainty After Supreme Court Holds ALJs Unconstitutional

SEC Proceedings Face Uncertainty After Supreme Court Holds ALJs Unconstitutional

October 1, 2018

After much anticipation, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on the constitutionality of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC or Commission) Administrative Law Judges (ALJs). In Lucia v. SEC, Dkt. No. 17–130, the Supreme Court held that ALJs are “Officers of the United States” subject to the Appointments Clause of the U.S. Constitution, rather than mere federal employees.

Second Circuit Affirms Summary Judgment for Bona Fide Purchaser in STOLI Action

Second Circuit Affirms Summary Judgment for Bona Fide Purchaser in STOLI Action

October 1, 2018

In a June 8, ruling in AEI Life v. Lincoln Benefit Life Co., the Second Circuit upheld the District Court for the Eastern District of New York’s application of New York’s two-year incontestability period to a STOLI policy.

Although Largely Deflated, IUL Illustration Statute Lawsuit Rolls On

Although Largely Deflated, IUL Illustration Statute Lawsuit Rolls On

July 27, 2018

Almost a year ago, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that an alleged violation of California’s illustration statutes could serve as a predicate for liability under the California Unfair Competition Law.

COI Litigation Update

COI Litigation Update

June 25, 2018

Life insurers that defend challenges to their exercises of discretion to adjust cost of insurance (COI) rates on universal life insurance policies continue to seek opportunities to narrow the scope of the claims through early dispositive motions.

Ninth Circuit: Face Amount Controls Amount-in-Controversy Questions Where Policy’s Validity is Disputed

Ninth Circuit: Face Amount Controls Amount-in-Controversy Questions Where Policy’s Validity is Disputed

June 25, 2018

In March, the Ninth Circuit provided clarity on a key and recurring issue relevant to a district court’s ability to exercise subject matter jurisdiction in actions involving the validity of life insurance policies.

To Preempt or Not to Preempt - Courts Issue Competing SLUSA Rulings

To Preempt or Not to Preempt - Courts Issue Competing SLUSA Rulings

June 25, 2018

During two weeks in April, two different courts — the Second Circuit and the New Jersey Superior Court — considered nearly identical allegations regarding variable products and reached diametrically opposed conclusions about the extent to which the claims were barred by the Securities Litigation Uniform Standard Act (SLUSA).

Win for MassMutual in Rare Class Action Trial

Win for MassMutual in Rare Class Action Trial

June 25, 2018

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.

Several Teams Compete to Reach NAIC Suitability Model Finals

Several Teams Compete to Reach NAIC Suitability Model Finals

June 5, 2018

Several teams competed over proposed revisions to the Suitability in Annuity Transactions Model Regulation (#275) at the in-person meeting of the NAIC Annuity Suitability Working Group.

Changes to New York Insurance Regulation 187: Are They April Showers Bringing May Flowers, or Are June Bugs on the Way?

Changes to New York Insurance Regulation 187: Are They April Showers Bringing May Flowers, or Are June Bugs on the Way?

April 30, 2018

If issued, the updated proposed first amendment will take effect on March 1, 2019.

New York Department of Financial Services Rings in the New Year With New Suitability Requirements for Insurance Companies

New York Department of Financial Services Rings in the New Year With New Suitability Requirements for Insurance Companies

January 1, 2018

New York’s Department of Financial Services (NY DFS) decided to bid farewell to 2017 and ring-in the new year by proposing to amend Suitability in Annuity Transactions, 11 NYCR 224 (the Annuity Suitability Rule).

Based on Principles of Fairness, Court Dismisses Putative Class Action RICO Claims Asserted Years After Initiation of Suit

Based on Principles of Fairness, Court Dismisses Putative Class Action RICO Claims Asserted Years After Initiation of Suit

December 29, 2017

In Robertson v. SunLife Financial, a federal district court in Louisiana dismissed with prejudice as time-barred an amended putative class action complaint alleging RICO and state racketeering claims related to alleged wrongful conduct by an agent related to annuities issued by SunLife.

COI Litigation Review – Early Dismissals Remain Elusive in Rate Increase Actions

COI Litigation Review – Early Dismissals Remain Elusive in Rate Increase Actions

December 29, 2017

Suits challenging insurers’ cost of insurance (COI) rate increases continue to generate much activity. In recent months, this activity has included transfers, consolidations, several actions that are inching closer to trial-readiness, and even a plaintiff’s jury verdict in an individual action.

Denial of Reinstatement of Lapsed Life Insurance Policy Affirmed Due to Failure to Satisfy Required Underwriting Standard

Denial of Reinstatement of Lapsed Life Insurance Policy Affirmed Due to Failure to Satisfy Required Underwriting Standard

December 29, 2017

In European Pensions Management Limited v. Columbus Life Insurance Co., a pension benefit plan that had purchased a life insurance policy on the secondary market and then permitted it to lapse for non-payment of premiums sued the insurer Columbus Life, alleging breach of contract and bad faith.

The Continuing Representation Doctrine Does Not Apply to Fraud Allegations

The Continuing Representation Doctrine Does Not Apply to Fraud Allegations

December 29, 2017

In Messmer v. KDK Fin. Serv. Inc., an individual action involving alleged fraud in connection with the sale and surrender of deferred annuities to a senior, the Indiana Court of Appeals refused to extend the doctrine of continuous representation to cases involving fraud and brokers of financial services.

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Disclaimer

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.