State Farm Injury Benefits Class Action Certified

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Santa Clara, CA: State Farm will face a bad faith insurance class action lawsuit brought by policy holders who allege they were wrongfully denied personal injury benefits after physicians found the policyholders achieved "maximum medical improvement".

The class was certified by a Washington federal judge, who granted named plaintiff Brett Durant's motion for class certification, dismissing State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co.'s statement that the case was unfit for class treatment because, among other things, each policyholder's damages needed to be calculated individually.

US District Judge Richard A. Jones stated that "Despite the possible individualized nature of damages calculations in this matter, the court nevertheless finds that '[c]lasswide resolution of the common issues is superior to the filing of multiple and duplicative lawsuits and will result in the efficient and consistent resolution of overarching questions."

Durant had sued State Farm in 2014, alleging the insurer had improperly denied his request for coverage of ongoing medical treatment for injuries he suffered in a 2012 car accident. The reason the insurer would not pay for treatment, the suit alleges, is because a chiropractor reported that Durant had reached maximum medical improvement, or MMI.

The personal-injury-protection section of Durant's State Farm policy extended coverage for "reasonable medical expenses" incurred within three years following the date of an accident. The policy indicated that reasonable medical expenses may include costs "essential in achieving maximum medical improvement for the bodily injury sustained in the accident," according to court documents. Durant sought class certification in 2016, asking to represent a class of insureds and third-party beneficiaries who, under any State Farm policy issued in Washington, had their benefits terminated or limited based on the MMI determination.

Durant claims that State Farm's behaviour is in violation of the Washington Administrative Code and state Insurance Fair Conduct Act.

In certifying the class, Judge Jones found that Durant had met the various requirements, in that Durant had identified enough potential class members, and that all the individual insureds' claims involve the same alleged unfair conduct by State Farm.

Durant is represented by Tyler K. Firkins of Van Siclen Stocks & Firkins and David A. Nauheim of Nauheim Law Office. The case is Durant v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., case number 2:15-cv-01710, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington.

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