On June 18, 2008, the Fourth District Court of Appeal of Florida in Friedman v. New York Life Insurance Company (No. 4 DO7-1744) affirmed the trial court’s dismissal with prejudice of plaintiff’s third amended putative class action complaint against Sutherland’s client, New York Life Insurance Company. Plaintiff, a certificate holder under a group insurance policy issued to the members of the American Veterinary Medical Association (“AVMA”), alleged that New York Life improperly raised her health insurance premiums. Plaintiff further alleged that the AVMA out-of-state group health insurance policy did not comply with Section 627.6515 of the Florida Insurance Code, thereby making the group health policy subject to the provisions of Part VII of the Florida Insurance Code. Plaintiff/appellant alleged that at least six Florida statutory provisions were violated by the group health policy. Defendant argued that plaintiff/appellant failed to state how she had been harmed by the alleged six statutory violations. Defendant further asserted that, because her claims were not properly pled, they should be dismissed with prejudice. After three attempts by plaintiff to amend the complaint and five motions to dismiss being granted (the last with prejudice), the Court of Appeals unanimously agreed that plaintiff/appellant had not asserted a viable cause of action. This decision is extremely important because the West Palm Beach/Miami area has become a locus of life and health insurance class action activity. Insurers should continue to assert defective pleading defenses where appropriate.
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