Nationwide Insurance - Insurance Bad Faith Class Action Litigation - Nationwide (1999)

Denis Stearns represented named plaintiffs Jeff Barreca and Lisa Hall in a 1999 class action lawsuit against Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company. The lawsuit accused Nationwide of “an unlawful and deceptive scheme” in which it improperly threatened uninsured motorists with the loss of their driver’s licenses while pretending to collect money on behalf of injured persons to whom Nationwide had sold UIM policies.

Without informing the injured people it insured, Nationwide sent collection letters to hundreds (if not thousands) of uninsured motorists across the United States, letters that contained unlawful threats, false and deceptive statements and negligent misrepresentations of fact. These letters stated that Nationwide had a “legal right” to collect money from the uninsured motorist, that it was doing so “on behalf” of injured motorists that it insured, and that it had the authority “to settle this matter out of court.” The letters also stated that, unless the uninsured motorist immediately agreed to pay Nationwide all of the money it demanded, Nationwide would cause the person to lose their driver’s license.

The suit contended Nationwide was guilty of fraud and violated the Consumer Protection Act.

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