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Ben V. Seessel

Ben V. Seessel

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Overview

Ben Seessel represents life insurers, annuity issuers, and other financial services companies in class actions and other complex cases in federal and state courts across the country. He has litigated numerous cases involving life insurance products, including defending against allegations of statutory and regulatory infractions, ERISA violations, violations of consumer protection laws, fraud, negligent misrepresentation, breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, negligence, and unjust enrichment, among other claims. Ben is co-author of the preemption chapter in Fourth Edition of the recognized treatise, Handbook on ERISA Litigation, published by Wolters Kluwer Law & Business, Aspen Publishers.

Ben also represents life insurers in regulatory and transactional matters, in particular, those that concern the use of emerging technologies in connection with the design, marketing, and distribution of life insurance products. He counsels industry clients on the use of big data and predictive analytics.

Featured Insights

Experience

  • Represented service provider in ERISA class action litigation involving alleged "revenue sharing" fees received from mutual fund investment advisers and/or distributors in connection with 401(k) retirement plan business.
  • Represented industry groups as amicus curiae in appeals before the several federal courts of appeals in actions against life insurers challenging the use of retained asset accounts.
  • Represented life insurer in private actions and regulatory proceedings involving challenges to cost of insurance rate adjustments.
  • Counseled major U.S. life insurer in reaching a resolution and settlement agreement with state insurance regulator regarding unclaimed life insurance benefits.
  • Represented private placement variable life insurance provider in class action matter relating to alleged losses attributable to Madoff "feeder fund" investments.
  • Represented major U.S. life insurer in drafting and negotiating vendor contracts involving complex regulatory, data rights, and cybersecurity issues. 
  • Seconded to major U.S. life insurer with responsibilities for a variety of regulatory and transactional matters for the company, reporting to the chief counsel for insurance products. 
  • Represented insurance industry client in litigation involving alleged fraud in the sale of broad-based corporate-owned life insurance.
  • Bellikoff v. United of Omaha Life Ins. Co., No. 02-01914, (Fla. Circuit Ct. 2004) (defended putative nationwide class action regarding life insurance premium gap issues).
  • Benefit Consultants, Inc. v. Fortis Cos., No. 28611, (Tenn. Chancery Ct. May 26, 2005) (assisted financial services client in obtaining a $70 million dollar jury verdict).
  • Edmonson v. Lincoln Nat’l Life Ins. Co., 725 F.3d 406 (3d Cir. 2013) (represented industry group as amicus curiae in support of appellee/prevailing party in appeal from district court's grant of summary judgment in ERISA class action involving a group life insurer's use of retained asset accounts to pay life insurance benefits).
  • Hayes v. American Bankers Ins. Group, No. 01-22010, (Fla. Circuit Ct. Dec. 17, 2004) (obtained dismissal (with subsequent award of attorney's fees) on claim for breach of "golden parachute" agreement) aff'd, No. 050113, (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. Dec. 28, 2005).
  • In re Tremont Sec. Law, State Law & Ins. Litig., 699 F. App'x 8, 18 (2d Cir. 2017) (represented private placement variable life insurer in its capacity as a financial institution class member in a nationwide class action settlement relating to alleged losses attributable to Madoff "feeder fund" investments), cert. denied sub nom. Haines v. Lange, No. 17-941 (U.S. Mar. 5, 2018).
  • Jackson v. American Bankers Ins. Group, No. 04-3083, (E.D. La. June 18, 2006) (obtained dismissal of putative class action involving credit insurance policies).
  • Law Offices of David Stern v. SCOR Reinsurance Co., No. 04-60170, (S.D. Fla. 2005) (defended reinsurer in direct action brought by policyholder following insurer's insolvency).
  • Leonard v. ReliaStar Life Ins. Co., No. 3:05-cv-01015, (M.D. Ala. 2006) (defense of national class action alleging fraud and breach of contract claims involving universal life insurance policies).
  • Lloyd/Huskey v. The O.N. Equity Sales Co., NASD Arbitration No. 02-07872, (NASD Southeast Region 2002) (defended broker-dealer against suitability, misrepresentation, and federal and state securities laws claims).
  • Marlow v. Allianz Life Ins. Co. of N. Am., No. 09CV7756 (D. Colo. 2011) (dismissal of agent's breach of fiduciary duty and fraud claims against insurer).
  • Merrimon v. Unum Life Ins. Co. of Am., 758 F.3d 46 (1st Cir. 2014) (amicus counsel in support of appellant/cross-appellee/prevailing party).
  • Novack Living Trust, et al. v. Citicorp Invest. Servs., No. 03-06595, (NASD Southeast Region 2004) (defended broker-dealer against misrepresentation and suitability claims brought by purchaser of mutual funds).
  • Oden v. First Floridian Auto & Home Ins. Co., No. 02CA3244, (Fla. Circuit Ct. May 18, 2004) (obtained dismissal of putative class action alleging claims arising out of "tiered" commission rates of automobile insurer).
  • Otte v. Life Ins. Co. of N. Am., No. 11-1973 (1st Cir. 2011) (represented industry group as amicus curiae in appeal relating to district court's class certification order in ERISA litigation involving a group life insurer’s use of retained asset accounts to pay life insurance benefits).
  • Rochow v. Life Ins. Co. of N. Am., -- F.3d --, 2015 WL 925794 (6th Cir. Mar. 5, 2015) (amicus counsel in support of appellant/prevailing party).
  • SSR II, LLC v. John Hancock Life Ins. Co. (U.S.A.), 2012 N.Y. Slip Op. 51880(U) [37 Misc. 3d 1204 (A)] (N.Y. Supr. Ct. Sept. 28, 2012).
  • Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. AIG Life Ins. Co., 872 A.2d 611 (Del. Ch. 2005).
  • Wellman v. Great-West Life Ins. Co., NASD Arbitration No. 03-05363, (NASD Southeast Region Feb. 20, 2005) (obtained dismissal of claims arising out of alleged misrepresentations in the sale of annuity product).

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Recognition

  • Recognized in JD Supra  as a "Top Author for Class Action Defense," First Annual Readers' Choice Awards (March 2016)

Professional & Community Involvement

  • Member, American Bar Association
    • Editor, Section of Litigation’s Class Actions & Derivative Suits Committee Newsletter
    • Section of Litigation
    • Section of Tort Trial and Insurance Practice 
  • Member, Connecticut, New York and Florida Bar Associations
  • Frequent Contributor, Expect Focus
  • Frequent Contributor, Classified: The Class Action Blog 
  • Ben serves on the firm’s pro bono committee, regularly represents clients pro bono, and is active in the community, particularly in providing support to High School, Inc., a Hartford public school focused on preparing students for careers in the insurance and financial services industries.

Speaking Engagements

  • “Innovation in Regulation,” Connecticut Insurance Market Summit, panel moderator with Connecticut Insurance Commissioner Katherine Wade, Maine Superintendent, Eric Cioppa, and NAIC CLO and COO, Andrew Beale, Hartford, CT (November 29, 2018)
  • "InsurTech," Bermuda Under 40s NYC Market Tour (September 2018)
  • “Regulatory Sandboxes,” American Council of Life Insurers’ Annual Conference, Orlando, FL (October 2017)
  • “Using Big Data: Legal Implications of Predictive Modeling,” American Council of Life Insurers’ Compliance and Legal Sections Annual Meeting, Coeur D’Alene, ID (July 2017)
  • “Innovation and the Future of Insurance and InsurTech,” American Council of Life Insurers’ Compliance and Legal Sections Annual Meeting, Coeur D’Alene, ID (July 2017)
  • Industry Response Panel on Innovation, Connecticut Insurance Market Summit, Hartford, CT (November 10, 2016)
  • “Big Data – Practical Problems, Proposed Solutions, and Ethical Considerations,” Client Focus Forum, Baltimore (October 2016)
  • "Big Data - Playing by the Rules," Dig|In: The Digital Future of Insurance Conference (May 2, 2016)
  • “Big Data,” Carlton Fields In-House Counsel Forum, Orlando, FL (March 2016) 
  • “Big Data – Practical Problems, Proposed Solutions, and Ethical Considerations,” Client Focus Forum, Boston (October 2015)
  • “Big Data – Practical Problems, Proposed Solutions, and Ethical Considerations,” Client Focus Forum, Newport Beach, CA (October 2015)

Credentials

Education
  • University of Miami (J.D., magna cum laude, 2002)
    • Order of the Coif
    • Associate Editor, University of Miami Inter-American Law Review
    • CALI Excellence Award and/or Dean's Certificate of Achievement in Evidence, Business Associations, Corporate Taxation, Federal Taxation, Trusts & Estates, Commercial Law II, and Accounting for Lawyers
  • Rutgers University (B.A., 1992)
Bar Admissions
  • Connecticut
  • New York
  • Florida
Court Admissions
  • U.S. District Court, District of Connecticut
  • U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York
  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of Florida
  • U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida

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.