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Federal judge decertifies class in hail-damage suit

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On order from the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, an Indiana judge has decertified the class in a lawsuit against State Farm following a 2006 hail storm in central Indiana.

Policyholders with three different State Farm insurance companies brought a proposed class-action lawsuit in 2007 alleging breach of contract, bad-faith denial of insurance benefits, and unjust enrichment. The homeowners sought damages and an injunction requiring State Farm to re-inspect all the class members’ roofs pursuant to a “uniform, reasonable and objective” standard for evaluating hail damage.

In 2009, Judge William Lawrence of the U.S. District Court’s Southern District of Indiana, granted the plaintiffs’ motion for class certification in part, defining the class seeking injunctive relief as all State Farm insured homeowners who submitted roof damage claims under their policies who didn't receive an entirely new roof at the insurer's expense, minus any applicable deduction or depreciation.

In February 2011, the 7th Circuit reversed, finding the case isn’t appropriate for class certification under Rule 23(b)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. It ordered the District Court decertify the class, which Judge Lawrence did Tuesday. The named plaintiffs in the suit may proceed on their claims individually.

In addition, those plaintiffs sought a stay of the proceedings on their individual cases because they are planning on filing a petition for certiorari with the Supreme Court of the United States. Judge Lawrence denied that motion.

“The Court believes it is in everyone’s best interests for the individual Plaintiffs’ cases to proceed, especially in light of the substantial time that already has passed since the events that led to this case occurred,” he wrote in the order in Cynthia Kartman v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., et al., No. 1:07-cv-474. “While the Plaintiffs apparently disagree, they make only a vague assertion regarding the ‘case management difficulties that will be presented’ in the event that the United States Supreme Court grants the Plaintiffs’ petition for certiorari and ultimately reverses the ruling of the Seventh Circuit. Whatever hypothetical difficulties those might be, the Court believes they are outweighed by the very real fact that this case was filed over four years ago and arises out of events that took place over five years ago.”

Judge Lawrence also ordered a notice to be published in the Indianapolis Star no more than seven days from June 14 alerting those who may have been a part of the class that the class no longer exists and the time to file an individual suit is limited.

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  1. A sad end to a prolific gadfly. Indiana has suffered a great loss in the journalistic realm.

  2. Good riddance to this dangerous activist judge

  3. What is the one thing the Hoosier legal status quo hates more than a whistleblower? A lawyer whistleblower taking on the system man to man. That must never be rewarded, must always, always, always be punished, lest the whole rotten tree be felled.

  4. I want to post this to keep this tread alive and hope more of David's former clients might come forward. In my case, this coward of a man represented me from June 2014 for a couple of months before I fired him. I knew something was wrong when he blatantly lied about what he had advised me in my contentious and unfortunate divorce trial. His impact on the proceedings cast a very long shadow and continues to impact me after a lengthy 19 month divorce. I would join a class action suit.

  5. The dispute in LB Indiana regarding lake front property rights is typical of most beach communities along our Great Lakes. Simply put, communication to non owners when visiting the lakefront would be beneficial. The Great Lakes are designated navigational waters (including shorelines). The high-water mark signifies the area one is able to navigate. This means you can walk, run, skip, etc. along the shores. You can't however loiter, camp, sunbath in front of someones property. Informational signs may be helpful to owners and visitors. Our Great Lakes are a treasure that should be enjoyed by all. PS We should all be concerned that the Long Beach, Indiana community is on septic systems.

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