Wednesday, January 6, 2021

No. 405: American National and Lincoln Benefit Are the Defendants in Two Similar Class Action Lawsuits

American National Insurance Company (ANIC) and Lincoln Benefit Life Company (LBL) are the defendants in two similar class action lawsuits. The cases were filed in December 2020 by the same plaintiffs' attorneys, and in the Central and Eastern federal district courts in California. The cases are discussed briefly in this post.

The Complaint Against ANIC
The complaint against ANIC was filed on December 10. The named plaintiffs are Myra Steen and Janet Williams. Here are portions of the "Nature of the Case" section of the complaint:
Since January 1, 2013, ANIC and other related entities have systematically and purposely failed to provide certain classes of policy owners, insureds, assignees and others, proper notices of pending lapse or termination. ANIC has failed to notify thousands of policy owners of their right to designate someone to receive critical notices and information regarding life insurance despite being required to do so on an annual basis. All of these important safeguards are required by, among other sources, California Insurance Code Sections 10113.71 and 10113.72. California law requires strict compliance with these safeguards and ANIC refuses to comply.
As a result, ANIC has failed to properly administer policies, evaluate the status of payments due under policies and pay claims to beneficiaries for policies improperly lapsed or terminated. Indeed, thousands of policy owners and beneficiaries have lost, and continue to lose, the benefit, value and security of their life insurance; have been, and continue to be, forced into unnecessary reinstatements; and in many instances have lost all reasonable access to any insurance at all.
The complaint against ANIC includes four counts: two counts seeking declaratory judgment relief, one count for breach of contract, and one count of unfair competition under California law. The full complaint against ANIC is in the complimentary package offered at the end of this post. (See Steen v. ANIC, U.S. District Court, Central District of California, Case No. 2:20-cv-11226.)

The Complaint Against LBL
The complaint against LBL was filed on December 16. The named plaintiff is Deana Farley. Much of the language in the complaint against LBL is similar or identical to the language in the complaint against ANIC. The full complaint against LBL is in the complimentary package offered at the end of this post. (See Farley v. LBL, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of California, Case No. 2:20-cv-2485.)

My Email to Craig Nicholas
Craig M. Nicholas of the San Diego firm of Nicholas & Tomasevic is one of the plaintiffs' attorneys who signed the complaints in the ANIC and LBL cases. On December 28, I sent Nicholas an email. After identifying myself, I asked two questions: first, whether he is aware of other similar lawsuits filed against insurance companies, and, if so, to identify them; and second, whether he anticipates further similar cases, and, if so, to identify them when they are filed. I gave him my telephone number if he wished to speak with me. I asked him to respond to my email by 5:00 pm Eastern time on January 4. I received no reply.

General Observations
The ANIC and LBL cases are similar or identical to one another in many respects. Also, the cases contain serious allegations of wrongdoing. Finally, it is interesting that the cases were filed only a few days apart in different federal district courts in California. I perused lists of cases in the other two California districts—the Northern and Southern districts—to see if I could spot any other similar cases. I did not see any other similar cases. I plan to write further about these cases.

Available Material
I am offering a complimentary 52-page PDF consisting of the complaint in the ANIC case (28 pages) and the complaint in the LBL case (24 pages). Email and ask for the January 2021 package about the ANIC and LBL cases.