Vogt v. State Farm Life Insurance Co., No. 18-3419 (8th Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
Over 25,000 life insurance policyholders filed a class action, alleging that State Farm impermissibly included non-listed factors in calculating Cost of Insurance (COI) fees assessed on life insurance policies. After the jury returned a $34 million verdict in the class's favor, State Farm and the named plaintiff appealed.
The Eighth Circuit affirmed the judgment with respect to State Farm's appeal, holding that the phrase "based on" in the COI provision is at least ambiguous and thus must be construed against State Farm. Therefore, the district court did not err in construing the policy language in this manner and granting summary judgment to plaintiff on issues of liability. The court also held that the district court did not err in granting summary judgment to plaintiff on State Farm's affirmative defense of limitations. Furthermore, the court held that the district court did not err in certifying the class or in denying State Farm's motion to decertify the class. The court also held that the district court did not err in denying State Farm's motion for judgment as a matter of law based on the alleged insufficiency of the damages models as evidence of damages suffered by class members. Finally, the court rejected State Farm's claims of evidentiary errors, and challenges to the judgment in favor of the named plaintiff.
However, the court reversed and remanded with respect to the named plaintiff's cross appeal, holding that the district court erroneously denied plaintiff's motion for an award of prejudgment interest because the damages model does not include prejudgment interest for the entire time up until judgment.