Pending and Recently Resolved Class Actions and Individual Cases

Adkins, Kelston & Zavez, P.C., has litigated dozens of consumer class action lawsuits, as well as individual cases raising complex legal issues.  Listed below are some that are still pending or were recently resolved.

Selection of Pending Cases

Bacchi v. Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Companyfiled as a class action and heavily litigated, has been settled by the parties subject to the approval of the federal court where the matter is pending.  A court-ordered notice was disseminated to Class Members on or before May 3, 2017 and is also available on the settlement website along with additional information about the case.  Please visit mmlisettlement.com to learn more, including the important dates and deadlines.  A fairness hearing is scheduled for July 27, 2017.   In this matter, Plaintiff contends that MassMutual retained profits that it was required to distribute as dividends to its participating policyholders.  

Harshbarger v. Penn Mutual Life Insurance Company, filed as a class action, contends that Penn Mutual retained profits that it was required to distribute as dividends to its participating policyholders.  The matter has been litigated in federal court and before the state insurance department where it is ongoing. 

Selection of Recently Resolved Class Actions and /or Derivative Actions

Behrand v. Comcast Corporation. We were part of a nationwide team of law firms suing the cable television service provider on the grounds that it has violated antitrust laws by seeking to monopolize the market in the greater Philadelphia area. The case settled for $50 million.

In re Harleysville Mutual Insurance Company.  We were part of a team of law firms seeking equitable and injunctive relief, and damages, on behalf of Harleysville Mutual’s (“Mutual”) 200,000 policyholders due to alleged unfair transactions entered into by Mutual: namely, an agreement to merge Harleysville Mutual into Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company which would also acquire Harleysville Group, Inc., a publicly-traded subsidiary of which Harleysville Mutual owns 54%.  The two transactions are conditioned on one another, and the public stockholders will be paid a 137% premium over their unaffected stock price, whereas the Mutual policyholders will receive no financial consideration. The case was settled for $26 million.

Goldstein v. Savings Bank Life Insurance Company of Massachusetts: settlement of this class action resolved a lawsuit that began in May 1998 that involved claims by the plaintiff-policyholders that SBLI had underpaid annual dividends on their policies as well as Special Dividends required as a result of SBLI’s 1992 reorganization.  After over 12 years of heavy litigation, plaintiffs and SBLI settled the lawsuit with SBLI’s payment of $18,675,330 plus the costs of sending the Class Notice and administering the settlement for a total settlement value of $21.5 million as determined by Plaintiffs.  As of April 2011, all claims were paid to Class Members, with unclaimed funds having been distributed to Court-approved cy pres recipients. 

Gintis v. Bouchard Transportation: this was an environmental pollution case brought on behalf of a Class of all persons owning waterfront property or deeded rights to waterfront property along Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts, that was oiled by the Bouchard Oil Spill on April 27, 2003.  The case was filed in April 2006, strenuously litigated and approved for settlement after a final fairness hearing by the federal court in Boston. MA, on November 4, 2010.  Under the settlement, Defendants – Bouchard Transportation Co., Tug Evening Tide Corp., and B. No. 120 Corp. – agreed to make a payment totaling $11.45 million to the Class (for damages, settlement administration costs, attorneys’ fees and expenses) for which Defendants received a general release.  As of December 31, 2011, all claims had been paid to Class Members who filed valid claims, with the balance of unclaimed funds having been paid to the Court-approved cy pres designee Buzzards Bay Coalition (based in New Bedford, MA). 

Rieff v. Evans et al.:  in this case, filed in 1997 and settled in 2005 for over $128.5 million, we certified a class of 300,000 policyholders of Allied Mutual Insurance Company, and succeeded in establishing important principles of law, including by winning two appeals before the Iowa Supreme Court -- one that strengthened the important role of juries even in complex cases and the other that both recognized that policyholders of a mutual insurer have standing to bring derivative litigation, and recognized the tort of de facto"demutualization" (that is, conversion of a mutual company, which is owned by its policyholders, into a stock company owned by shareholders, and "de facto" because it was done without following the legal requirements). As of 2005, the settlement was the largest class action recovery in Iowa’s history. 

Crandall v. Alderfer: in this case, we represented the plaintiffs in a class action suit alleging that the directors of Old Guard Mutual Insurance Company improperly converted it from a mutual insurance company to a stock company (i.e., “demutualized”) without compensating the class of its policyholders.  After extensive motion practice and discovery, and certification of the class, plaintiffs settled the case on behalf of the class for $7 million. 

Silverman v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Company: in this case, we represented several policyholders who alleged that Liberty Mutual had filed a misleading proxy concerning its conversion to a mutual holding company and that the conversion, as structured, would harm the policyholders' equity interests in the mutual.  After extensive pretrial litigation and targeted discovery, we settled the case on behalf of the named plaintiffs through an agreement that included (i) substantive changes in the way the company would operate for up to ten years, to eliminate or reduce potential conflicts resulting from the conversion, and (ii) the payment by Liberty Mutual of over $850,000 for litigation costs and to fund ongoing reform efforts. 

Lincoln National Life Insurance Company, Franklin Life Insurance Company and Western Southern Life Assurance Company: AKZ was part of a team of plaintiff law firms that brought separate class actions against Lincoln National Life Insurance Company, Franklin Life Insurance Company and Western Southern Life Assurance Company.  All three of these cases settled on favorable terms for each plaintiff class. 

In re New England Life Insurance Company Sales Practices Litigation: in this case, AKZ was one of a team of plaintiff law firms that charged New England Life with deceptive sales practices.  The case ultimately settled for an amount valued in excess of $100 million. 

Landy v. D’Alessandro et al.: in this derivative case, a shareholder of John Hancock Financial, Inc. sued CEO David D’Alessandro and the Hancock board of directors for allegedly paying and receiving unlawful, excessive director pay and executive compensation.  The case survived a motion to dismiss as to the directors, and was dismissed without prejudice with a right to refile the complaint against the CEO.  A subsequent sale of Hancock to Canadian-based Manulife Financial changed the Delaware Corporate law underlying the case and it ultimately had to be dismissed.

Selection of Recently Resolved Individual Cases

American Process Equipment Co. v. Atlantic Mutual Insurance Company: We represented the plaintiff engineering firm whose machinery was seriously damaged by heavy rain.  After Atlantic Mutual denied coverage, we tried the case in Massachusetts federal court and obtained a jury verdict awarding our client the full insurance coverage in excess of $4.7 million.

Micromuse, Inc. v. The Estate of Christopher Dawes: We represented the defendant (the estate of a recently deceased high tech entrepreneur), where plaintiff claimed hundreds of millions of dollars in damages for breach of a joint venture agreement.  After extensive discovery, our client prevailed on summary judgment, and final judgment entered for the estate, with costs, on March 2, 2004. 

Lambert v. O'Donnell and Department of Environmental Protection: We represented plaintiff neighbors challenging a planned real estate development that threatened a pristine environment at Riggs Point in Gloucester, MA.  We successfully sued in state court and overturned the DEP’s approval.  The case was then sent back to an administrative tribunal, which agreed with our clients and halted the development before it could spoil the bordering wetlands.