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Proctor v. Globe Life and Accident Insurance Co.

United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma

August 18, 2017

MICHAEL PROCTOR, an Individual, on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
v.
GLOBE LIFE AND ACCIDENT INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant.

          ORDER

          VICKI MILES-LaGRANGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the Court is plaintiff's Motion for Class Certification, filed September 23, 2016. On November 4, 2016, defendant filed its response, and on December 2, 2016, plaintiff filed his reply. Based upon the parties' submissions, the Court makes its determination.[1]

         I. Introduction

         Since 1951, defendant has sold life insurance policies to people throughout the United States. The “Premium and Reinstatement” provisions in defendant's life insurance policies are substantially similar. The policies all provide that (1) premiums are payable in advance of the due date; (2) there is a 31 day grace period during which the policy will stay in force and during which premiums can be paid; (3) if the premium is not paid during the grace period, the policy will lapse; and (4) if the policy lapses, the insured can ask that it be reinstated and the policy will be reinstated if the following three conditions are met: (a) the written request is received within a certain time period of the due date of the first unpaid premium; (b) the insured shows that he is still insurable; and (c) the insured pays all overdue premiums. Over the years, defendant has developed certain practices regarding the payment of premiums. Those practices are as follows: (1) there is a 31 day grace period in which to make a payment from the due date; after the grace period has passed, the policy is lapsed and the coverage is not active; (2) when a policy has lapsed beyond the 31 day grace period, defendant will accept payment up to 120 days lapsed without reinstatement provided the insured is in good health (if not in good health, reinstatement is required); and (3) after the 120th day of lapse, payment cannot be accepted and the insured must apply for reinstatement and pay all back premiums to bring the policy current in order for reinstatement to be considered.[2]

         Through the instant action, plaintiff is challenging defendant's practice during the period when the policy is lapsed between 32 and 120 days. Plaintiff contends that this practice is directly and expressly contrary to the provisions of defendant's life insurance policies. Plaintiff asserts that whenever defendant accepts premiums on a life insurance policy that has already lapsed, in any amount less than all of the overdue premiums, such that the policy is not brought current and reinstated at that time, those premiums should be returned to the insured.

         Plaintiff now moves this Court to certify a nationwide class in this case. Specifically, plaintiff moves to certify the following class:

All Globe policyholders residing in the United States (including its Territories and the District of Columbia) that paid Globe life insurance policy premium payments, which Globe retained, at a time when that life insurance policy was already lapsed and was not reinstated with such payment.

         Plaintiff's Motion for Class Certification and Brief in Support at 6. Excluded from plaintiff's proposed class are

(i) Defendant Globe Life and Accident Insurance Company, any parent, affiliate, or subsidiary of Defendant, (ii) any entity in which Defendant has a controlling interest; (iii) any of Defendant's officers or directors; (iv) any successor or assign of Defendant; (v) anyone employed by counsel for Plaintiff; (vi) any Judge to whom this case is assigned, his or her spouse, and all members of their families; (vii) persons who have settled with and validly released Defendant from separate claims against Defendant based on the conduct alleged herein; (viii) any and all federal, state or local government entity, including but not limited to, their associated departments, agencies, divisions, bureaus, boards, sections, groups, councils, and/or any other subdivision, and any claim that such governmental entity(ies) may have directly or indirectly; (ix) class counsel; (x) the Judges of any court which this case is assigned; (xi) any persons who Plaintiff's counsel are prohibited from representing under Rule 1.7 of the Oklahoma Rules of Professional Conduct.

Id.

         II. Discussion

         “The class action is an exception to the usual rule that litigation is conducted by and on behalf of the individual named parties only.” Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes, 564 U.S. 338, 348 (2011) (internal quotations and citation omitted). “To come within the exception, a party seeking to maintain a class action must affirmatively demonstrate his compliance with Rule 23.” Comcast Corp. v. Behrend, 133 S.Ct. 1426, 1432 (2013) (internal quotations and citation omitted). The plaintiff ultimately bears the burden of showing that the Rule 23 requirements are met, and this Court must engage in its own “rigorous analysis” to ensure that certification is appropriate. See Shook v. El Paso Cty., 386 F.3d 963, 968 (10th Cir. 2004).

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23 provides, in pertinent part:

(a) Prerequisites. One or more members of a class may sue or be sued as representative parties on behalf of ...

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