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September 2012

Gordon & Rees Defeats National Class Action Case on Summary Judgment

A team of lawyers in Gordon & Rees's San Francisco office obtained a full defense verdict in Federal District Court in Arizona on behalf of our client, a national annuity and financial services company, in the high-stakes, class-action battleground involving indexed annuities. The District Court agreed with our argument that Plaintiffs' claims are fatally flawed, and granted our client summary judgment on all counts. Plaintiffs sought class certification of a multi-state class on racketeering (RICO) and consumer protection claims, among others. Plaintiffs alleged our client failed to disclose material information about its annuities, and that the products provided illusory benefits to customers. The court rejected these allegations. It concluded our client fully disclosed the requisite product information, and was under no obligation to disclose its internal pricing structures. The court also concluded plaintiff suffered no injury under RICO or state consumer protection laws.
Also pending before the court was plaintiffs' motion for class certification. While technically that motion was moot in light of the decision to grant the motion for summary judgment, the court noted it would have, "more probably than not," denied the motion for class certification because the evidence defendant submitted in opposition to class certification showed fundamentally non-uniform oral and/or written representations to the proposed class.
The decision is particularly noteworthy because a number of similar cases have resulted in substantial settlements or verdicts for the plaintiff classes.

Jordan S. Altura