“The district court’s certification order radically transforms the class action from a device that avoids the inefficiencies of repeatedly trying the same claims into a device that unfairly alters the parties’ substantive rights.”
—Cory Andrews, WLF General Counsel & Vice President of Litigation

Click here for WLF brief.

(Washington, DC)—Washington Legal Foundation (WLF) today asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit to decertify an unwieldy class of USAA life insurance policyholders.

The appeal arises from a certified class of USAA policyholders who allege that USAA breached their life insurance policies by considering unlisted factors when setting cost of insurance (COI) rates. Over USAA’s objections, the trial court certified a class that included many policyholders who suffered no harm or loss from USAA’s COI calculations. The court also allowed the plaintiffs to establish commonality of classwide damages based solely on an expert opinion that would be inadmissible at trial.

In its amicus brief urging reversal, WLF advances two arguments. First, by certifying a class that includes many uninjured policyholders, the district court far exceeded its jurisdictional reach under Article III, which requires every plaintiff to have suffered a cognizable injury in fact. Second, by declining to decide the admissibility of expert evidence at the certification stage, the district court contravened circuit precedent and dramatically lowered the bar for class certification. Each of those defects, WLF contends, supplies an independent ground for reversal.