In 2018, Susman Godfrey secured a $91.25 million all-cash, non-reversionary settlement for insurance policy owners. The plaintiff in this case alleged that John Hancock breached the life insurance contracts of the class by failing to decrease rates on certain universal life insurance policies after having promised that rates would be “based on [John Hancock’s] expectations of future mortality experience.” The $91.25 million settlement was approved by the court in 2019.
In a seminal insurance class action filed in the Southern District of New York, resolved in September 2015, Susman Godfrey served as lead counsel in a case that challenged Phoenix Life Insurance Company’s and PHL Variable Insurance Company’s decision to raise the cost of insurance (“COI”) nationwide on life insurance policy owners. After winning class certification and defeating two motions for class decertification and a motion for summary judgment, the case settled the day of the final Pretrial Conference — less than two months before trial. Settlement terms included: a $48.5 million cash fund ($34 million after fees and expenses), a COI freeze through 2020, and a covenant by Phoenix not to challenge the policies, worth $9 billion in face value, when the policies mature on the grounds of lack of insurable interest or misrepresentations in the application. At the final approval hearing, the Court concluded: “I want to say publicly that I think this is an excellent settlement. I think this is a superb – this may be the best settlement pound for pound for the class that I’ve ever seen.”
Susman Godfrey represented a group of more than forty health plans (who between them comprise more than 70% of the U.S. market for private health insurance) asserting healthcare reimbursement liens against claimants to the $4.85 billion Vioxx compensation fund. In January 2009, the Firm’s clients reached a groundbreaking settlement with the Vioxx Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee, guaranteeing them certain payouts on their liens covering participating plaintiffs. The American Lawyer magazine featured this settlement in the “Big Suits” column of its April 2009 issue.
In 2016, Susman Godfrey is litigating four new certificate of insurance class actions against AXA, Voya, Hancock and Lincoln.