Growing Trend: District Court Strikes Class Action Allegations at Pleading Stage

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[author: Johanna Clark]
In Vandenbrink v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 2012 WL 3156596 (M.D. Fla. 2012), Plaintiffs alleged, on behalf of a putative class, that State Farm breached its insurance policies when it subrogated its prior Medical Payment Coverage payments against Plaintiffs where those Plaintiffs had not been "made whole" in their settlements with their respective tortfeasors.  Under well-established Florida law, an insured must be "made whole" in her recovery from a third party tortfeasor before the insurer may directly subrogate from the insured.  In analyzing the class allegations at the pleading stage, Judge Moody concluded that because the threshold issue is whether the Plaintiffs were "made whole" through their settlements with their respective tortfeasors, if this case were to proceed, the most important issues to settle would be "individual in nature."  The individual factual inquiries of 1) damages incurred by an individual plaintiff, 2) the amount of the settlement and 3) the portions of the settlement that were actually paid for medical payments, would predominate making class litigation "highly impractical".