The recent decision by the Connecticut Supreme Court in Macomber v. Travelers did not represent a victory for either the defendants or the plaintiff according to Ralph Stone, the lead plaintiff attorney.
Here are highlights from Mark Wahlstrom's audio interview with Ralph Stone:
“The defendants have very little to be happy about", according to Stone. "The reasoning of the Connecticut Supreme Court had nothing to do with what the defendants were seeking in their appeal of class certification.”
In considering the Macomber case for a second time, the Connecticut Supreme Court reached two decisions. Stone characterized the first decision, that the plaintiff Lisa Macomber does not have a claim against Solomon Smith Barney, as “trivial”. “We have always had our sights on Travelers. Travelers is really the wrongdoer here.”
Stone described the second decision as criticism of the trial court, as well as the parties, for limiting discovery. The Connecticut Supreme Court determined the discovery process was inadequate to certify a larger class under Connecticut law and remanded the case to the trial court for additional proceedings. Stone pointed out the defendants, not the plaintiff, wanted to limit discovery. The trial court agreed with the defendants and limited discovery to 28 cases out of potentially thousands nationwide. On remand, the discovery process is expected to be more comprehensive.
Stone would not predict any timetables for discovery noting the Macomber case in now eight years old. The new trial judge will be the fifth trial judge in the case according to Stone.
Acknowledging the Macomber case is one of the most important and divisive within the structured settlement industry, Stone said he hopes the case will raise awareness among plaintiff attorneys about the structured settlement conduct of some defendants and insurance carriers that Stone and his client, Lisa Macomber, allege is illegal. “A number of insurers have already abandoned these practices,” Stone said.
Stone characterized the alleged improper business conduct by Travelers as “kickbacks” involving the purchase of annuities to fund structured settlements. He called the practices unfair and abusive violations of Connecticut’s Unfair Trade Practices Act and Unfair Insurance Practices Acts. "When people settle their claims, they want to know what their claims are worth. We hope to improve disclosure in the structured settlement industry.”
Stone predicted more litigation involving structured settlements. Referencing investigations by New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, Stone said “insurers will be exposed and called to task for conduct they have been trying to hide."
Additional Resources for Macomber v. Travelers:
- Mark Wahlstrom's audio interview of Ralph Stone
- Opinion of the Connecticut Supreme Court