Golden v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., No. 12-3901 (7th Cir. 2014)Annotate this Case
Golden purchased automobile insurance from State Farm. The mandatory liability portion of her policy provided that State Farm would defend the insured against a third-party lawsuit using attorneys chosen by State Farm. Following a collision, Golden was represented by in-house counsel. She later filed a purported class action, claiming that “historically and traditionally” State Farm and other insurers defended third-party claims against insureds by hiring private, independent attorneys. State Farm now routinely uses in-house staff attorneys to represent insureds against such claims. Golden filed a purported class action, alleging that State Farm owes its insureds a duty to explain in its policies that house counsel may be used. The district court dismissed, holding that Indiana law creates no obligation to provide advance notification to an insured that an insurer uses house counsel to defend insureds. The court denied Golden’s request to certify the question to the Indiana Supreme Court. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, noting that Golden did not allege that she received deficient representation or that she ever objected to the use of house counsel in her suit. All of her claims depended on the existence of a duty to disclose; State Farm had no duty to disclose.