Insurer loses bid to shed some claims from annuities lawsuit
December 20, 2010 by N/A
A California federal judge has rejected an insurer’s latest bid to dismiss certain claims from a nationwide class-action suit brought by senior citizens alleging an improper annuities sales scheme.
U.S. District Judge Christina A. Snyder of the Central District of California held that Allianz Life Insurance Co. was entitled to neither reconsideration of her earlier denial of summary judgment on the claims nor permission for an immediate appeal.
The ruling stems from two related class-action lawsuits brought in 2005 on behalf of an estimated 200,000 seniors who purchased Allianz annuities. The cases have since been coordinated before Judge Snyder.
The plaintiffs contend that Allianz conspired with affiliated sales agents to induce seniors to purchase its annuities through misleading statements about the value of the products. The lawsuit asserts violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1961; elder abuse; unfair business practices’ and related claims.
This case is one of a number of class-action lawsuits filed against Allianz involving the sale of annuities, including Mooney v. Allianz Life Insurance Co., No. CV-06-00545 (D. Minn.). The class members in Mooney partly overlapped the class members in this case.
Following a trial in Mooney the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota entered a final judgment in Allianz’s favor Jan. 29.
Two months later Allianz moved for partial summary judgment in this case, asserting that as a result of the Mooney judgment, the doctrine of claim preclusion barred the RICO claims of the overlapping class members.
Judge Snyder denied Allianz’s motion Aug. 18. She concluded that the insurer waived its right to assert the claim-preclusion doctrine by failing to raise the defense until after it obtained a favorable judgment in Mooney.
She also found that the notice sent to Mooney class members could not bind the class members here because it did not tell them that failure to opt out of Mooney might adversely affect their claims in this case.
Allianz then asked the judge to reconsider her ruling or, in the alternative, allow an immediate appeal of the decision.
But Judge Snyder said the insurer presented nothing to sway her from her conclusion that “allowing Allianz to assert claim preclusion at this late stage would work a substantial injustice on the plaintiffs.”
She added that Allianz failed to present the type of “exceptional circumstances” that would justify allowing an appeal before final judgment.
Plaintiffs’ counsel was Theodore Pintar of Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd in San Diego.
The defendant’s attorney was Stephen Jorden of Jorden Burt in Washington.
Negrete et al. v. Allianz Life Insurance Co., Nos. CV 05-6838 and CV 05-8908, 2010 WL 4536779 (C.D. Cal. Nov. 1, 2010).