On September 20, a federal district court in the District of Columbia dismissed a lawsuit brought by reinsurers of the federal crop insurance program. The plaintiffs-reinsurers alleged that the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation (“FCIC”) improperly modified the actuarial methodology that set the premiums owed for several crops, including corn and soybeans, resulting in plaintiffs purportedly paying more than what was allegedly conveyed to them at the time of contracting. Indeed, the plaintiffs had entered into five-year standard agreements which they claimed included representations that the methodology used to determine the premiums charged would not change, but it later did. The plaintiffs first challenged the methodology with the Deputy Director of Insurance Services, and later to the Civil Board of Contract Appeals (the “Board”), both of which granted summary relief to the FCIC.
Thereafter, the plaintiffs filed suit in federal court alleging counts of breach of contract, promissory estoppel, unjust enrichment, violation of a statute limiting renegotiation of standard contracts to once every five years, violation of a statute in that the FCIC did not consider the reinsurer’s financial condition, reformation and rescission, and for a declaratory judgment. The FCIC filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings under FRCP 12(c), which the court granted. In so doing, the court found that many claims were barred by res judicata as they had been decided by the Board and were not appealed under the Administrative Procedures Act. The court also found that the promissory estoppel and unjust enrichment counts were not actionable because the parties’ agreement was governed by existing contracts. As to the new counts not raised before the Board, the court found that the claims should be dismissed for failure to exhaust administrative remedies. Thus, the court dismissed the suit brought by the reinsurers.
Ace American Ins. Co. v. Federal Crop Ins. Corp., Case No. 1:14-cv-01992-RCL (D.D.C. Sept. 20, 2016).