On October 5, 2018, Senior U.S. District Judge Christina A. Snyder granted preliminary approval of a proposed settlement to resolve the Feller case and related cases that had been consolidated with Feller. On January 20, 2019, she conducted a fairness hearing. On February 6, 2019, she issued an order granting final approval of the settlement, finding that it represents a fair and complete resolution of all claims asserted.
The settlement class consists of more than 69,000 policies. Transamerica agreed to create a settlement fund of $195 million. The fund was reduced to reflect those class members who opted out of the settlement. There were 575 opt outs; those policy numbers are listed in an exhibit attached to the order. Payments from the fund to class members are based on the difference between the COI charges imposed during the class period (August 1, 2015 through February 6, 2019) and the COI charges that would have been imposed without the increases, subject to a minimum allocation of $100. Owners of in-force policies are paid their shares as increases in their policies' accumulation values. Owners of discontinued policies are paid their shares by check.
Transamerica agreed not to impose further COI increases on any class policy within the next five years, unless ordered to do so by a state regulatory body. However, the company will maintain the COI increases previously implemented. The company agreed to certain conditions relating to future COI increases in class policies, and also agreed not to seek rescission of the coverage in class policies.
In addition to creating the fund, Transamerica agreed to pay all settlement expenses, and also to pay the first $10 million of court-approved fees and expenses of the plaintiffs' attorneys. Judge Snyder approved payment, from the fund, of attorney fees of about $27.7 million and legal expenses of about $1 million, less the first $10 million that Transamerica agreed to pay. She also approved payment, from the fund, of service awards of $10,000 to each of eight named class representatives.
Attorneys representing the plaintiffs and attorneys representing Transamerica negotiated extensively, and they utilized the services of a mediator. Yet, neither I nor any other outsider can be in a position to determine the adequacy or fairness of the settlement. In this regard, Judge Snyder quoted this famous 2014 statement by the Ninth Circuit:
Of course it is possible, as many of the objectors' affidavits imply, that the settlement could have been better. But this possibility does not mean the settlement presented was not fair, reasonable or adequate. Settlement is the offspring of compromise; the question we address is not whether the final product could be prettier, smarter or snazzier, but whether it is fair, adequate and free from collusion.I have seen many class action lawsuits relating to COI increases. As far as I know, every one that survived early dismissal and won class certification was settled. I do not anticipate hearing of a case that goes to trial, reaches a verdict by a judge or jury, and completes the appellate process.
I am offering a complimentary 32-page PDF showing Judge Snyder's final order approving the settlement. Email email@example.com and ask for the February 2019 package relating to Feller v. Transamerica.