This excerpt taken from the ALL 10-Q filed May 3, 2006.
Avery v. State Farm, plaintiffs have voluntarily dismissed with prejudice the one active nationwide class action lawsuit pending against Allstate regarding its specification of after-market (non-original equipment manufacturer) replacement parts in the repair of insured vehicles.
There are several statewide and nationwide class action lawsuits pending against Allstate alleging that its failure to pay inherent diminished value to insureds under the collision, comprehensive, uninsured motorist property damage, or auto property damage liability provisions of auto policies constitutes breach of contract and fraud. Plaintiffs define inherent diminished value as the difference between the market value of the insured automobile before an accident and
the market value after repair. Plaintiffs allege that they are entitled to the payment of inherent diminished value under the terms of the policy. To a large degree, these lawsuits mirror similar lawsuits filed against other carriers in the industry. These lawsuits are pending in various state and federal courts, and they are in various stages of development. Classes have been certified in only two cases. Both are multi-state class actions. A trial in one of these multi-state class action cases involving collision and comprehensive coverage concluded on April 29, 2004, with a jury verdict in favor of the Company. The plaintiffs have filed an appeal from the judgment. Oral argument on that appeal was held on January 5, 2006, but the court has not yet ruled. In the other certified class action lawsuit, which involves uninsured motorist property damage coverage, the appellate court granted the Companys petition for review of the order of certification, and has affirmed the certification. The Company has filed a petition to appeal to the Washington Supreme Court and is awaiting a ruling. The Company has been vigorously defending all of these lawsuits and, since 1998, has been implementing policy language in more than 40 states reaffirming that its collision and comprehensive coverages do not include diminished value claims. The outcome of these disputes remains uncertain.
There are a number of state and nationwide class action lawsuits pending in various state courts challenging the legal propriety of Allstates medical bill review processes on a number of grounds, including, among other things, the manner in which Allstate determines reasonableness and necessity. One nationwide class action has been certified. These lawsuits, which to a large degree mirror similar lawsuits filed against other carriers in the industry, allege these processes result in a breach of the insurance policy as well as fraud. Plaintiffs seek monetary damages in the form of contractual and extra-contractual damages. The Company denies these allegations and has been vigorously defending these lawsuits. The outcome of these disputes is currently uncertain.
A number of nationwide and statewide putative class actions are pending against Allstate that challenge Allstates use of certain automated database vendors in valuing total loss automobiles. To a large degree, these lawsuits mirror similar lawsuits filed against other carriers in the industry. Plaintiffs allege that flaws in these databases result in valuations to the detriment of insureds. The plaintiffs are seeking actual and punitive damages. The lawsuits are in various stages of development and Allstate has been vigorously defending them, but the outcome of these disputes is currently uncertain.
The Company is defending a putative nationwide class action that alleges that the Company discriminates against non-Caucasian policyholders through underwriting and rate-making practices, including the use of credit information, that result in higher premiums. The Company is also defending a putative statewide class action in federal court challenging its use of credit information under certain state insurance statutes. These plaintiffs seek monetary and equitable relief, including actual and punitive damages and injunctive relief. The Company denies these allegations and has been vigorously defending these lawsuits. The outcome of these disputes is currently uncertain.
The Company is defending a number of matters filed in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, including several statewide putative class action lawsuits pending in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. In addition, the Mississippi Attorney General filed a suit asserting that the flood exclusion found in Allstates and other insurance companies policies is either ambiguous, unenforceable as unconscionable or contrary to public policy, or inapplicable to the damage suffered in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. These suits seek primarily declaratory relief, and in some cases, actual and punitive damages in an unspecified amount. A Texas district court judge denied the Texas Commissioner of Insurances request for a permanent injunction mandating the payment of additional living expense claims under the Texas policy form in the absence of physical damage to the insured premises. The Texas Commissioner of Insurance did not file an appeal. The matters described in this paragraph are in various stages of development and Allstate intends to vigorously defend them. The outcome of these disputes is currently uncertain.
Allstate is defending various lawsuits involving worker classification issues. These lawsuits include a number of putative class actions and several certified class actions challenging the overtime exemption claimed by the Company under the Fair Labor Standards Act or state wage and hour laws. In these cases, plaintiffs seek monetary relief, such as penalties and liquidated damages, and non-monetary relief, such as injunctive relief and an accounting. These class actions mirror similar lawsuits filed against other carriers in the industry and other employers. Allstate is continuing to vigorously defend its worker classification lawsuits. The outcome of these disputes is currently uncertain.
The Company is defending certain matters relating to the Companys agency program reorganization announced in 1999. These matters include a lawsuit filed in December 2001 by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleging retaliation under federal civil rights laws, a class action filed in August 2001 by former employee agents alleging retaliation and age discrimination under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, breach of contract and ERISA violations, and a lawsuit filed in October 2004 by the EEOC alleging age discrimination with respect to a
policy limiting the rehire of agents affected by the agency program reorganization. The Company is also defending a certified class action filed by former employee agents who terminated their employment prior to the agency program reorganization. These plaintiffs have asserted breach of contract and ERISA claims and are seeking actual damages including benefits under Allstate employee benefit plans and payments provided in connection with the reorganization, as well as punitive damages. In late March 2004, in the first EEOC lawsuit and class action lawsuit, the trial court issued a memorandum and order that, among other things, certified classes of agents, including a mandatory class of agents who had signed a release, for purposes of effecting the courts declaratory judgment that the release is voidable at the option of the release signer. The court also ordered that an agent who voids the release must return to Allstate any and all benefits received by the [agent] in exchange for signing the release. The court also concluded that, on the undisputed facts of record, there is no basis for claims of age discrimination. The EEOC and plaintiffs have asked the court to clarify and/or reconsider its memorandum and order. The case otherwise remains pending. A putative nationwide class action has also been filed by former employee agents alleging various violations of ERISA, including a worker classification issue. These plaintiffs are challenging certain amendments to the Agents Pension Plan and are seeking to have exclusive agent independent contractors treated as employees for benefit purposes. This matter was dismissed with prejudice by the trial court, was the subject of further proceedings on appeal, and was reversed and remanded to the trial court in April 2005. In these matters, plaintiffs seek compensatory and punitive damages, and equitable relief. Allstate has been vigorously defending these lawsuits and other matters related to its agency program reorganization. In addition, Allstate has been defending certain matters relating to its life agency program reorganization announced in 2000. These matters have been the subject of an investigation by the EEOC with respect to allegations of age discrimination and retaliation and conciliation discussions between Allstate and the EEOC. The outcome of these disputes is currently uncertain.
The Company has resolved through mediation and settlement all but two of its lawsuits brought by plaintiffs challenging trading restrictions the Company adopted in an effort to limit market-timing activity in its variable annuity sub-accounts. In the remaining lawsuits, the plaintiffs seek a variety of remedies including monetary and equitable relief. The Company has been vigorously defending these matters, but their outcome is currently uncertain.
The Company is defending its homeowners insurance rates and discount programs in administrative actions filed by the Texas Department of Insurance. The Department is focusing, as they have with other insurers, on the reasonableness of the Companys rates for the risks to which they apply. These proceedings seek primarily to restrict premium rates and require premium refunds to policyholders. The matters described in this paragraph are in various stages of development and the outcome is uncertain.