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Judge allows class action in hail damage suit

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A U.S. District judge is allowing certain State Farm insurance policy holders to proceed in a class action suit against the company as a result of how the insurer handled roof claims following a 2006 hail storm in central Indiana.

On Feb. 6, Southern District Judge William T. Lawrence granted the plaintiffs' motion for class certification in part in the suit, Cynthia Kartman, et al. v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., et al., No. 1:07-cv-474. Judge Lawrence found the plaintiffs met all of the prerequisites of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(a) and (b)(2) to allow a class of individuals to pursue the injunctive relief requested. The judge rejected the plaintiffs' original request that those with roof damage from the hail storm and had claims denied by State Farm should be allowed in the suit. Instead, Judge Lawrence defined 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.

The District Court ordered that a general notice be made available via publication and Web site to inform potential class members and that individualized notices go out to those who have current lawsuits pending or decide to file a lawsuit before the opt-out date.

The plaintiffs in this suit allege State Farm doesn't have a reasonable, objective standard in place for adjusting hail damage claims and many people were denied or not fully covered for roof damage from the storm. The plaintiffs want compensatory and punitive damages for breach of contract, tortious bad faith breach of their insurance contracts, and unjust enrichment. They also seek injunctive relief in the form of an order that State Farm re-evaluate the roofs pursuant to a uniform and objective standard of everyone who made a timely claim.

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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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