Ninth Circuit Overrules Denial of Class Certification Ruling in Annuity Litigation, Adopting a De Novo Standard of Review

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On August 28, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision that found the Hawaii District Court had erred in denying class certification in a case involving the sale of annuities to senior citizens. While expressing no opinion as to the merits of the case, the Court of Appeals concluded that the class in Yokoyama v. Midland National Life Insurance Company should have been certified.

According to the Ninth Circuit, the plaintiffs in Yokoyama limited their claim to one that specifically targeted the misrepresentations made by Midland National in its brochures that promoted the annuities as appropriate for seniors. (No actual brochure language is quoted in the case.) Significantly, the claim was alleged solely under the Hawaii Deceptive Practices Act (“DPA”), which appears to be similar to a claim under the Unfair Competition Law in California.

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