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Wednesday, 01 June 2022 14:25

Insurers Too Late for Subrogation in Auto Parts Price-Fixing Case, Court Rules

Written by Jim Sams, Insurance Journal

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Insurers waited too long to intervene in anti-trust litigation that brought settlements requiring dozens of auto parts manufacturers to pay a total of $1.2 billion to resolve price-fixing allegations, a panel of the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeal ruled June 1.

In a published decision, the appellate panel affirmed a U.S. District Court ruling that denied a motion to intervene filed by Financial Recovery Services on behalf of eight insurers that sought “equitable subrogation” for the payments it made to insureds for the total loss of their vehicles.

 

FRS did not seek to intervene in the litigation until long after settlement negotiations were concluded and final-approval hearings were held in 41 coordinated cases.

 

The 6th Circuit panel said in its opinion that allowing intervention would require the court to revisit issues that were settled while FRS “watched from the sidelines.”

 

“Allowing FRS to claim subrogation rights after settlement would uproot earlier efforts to define classes, expend considerable resources to amend allocation plans and increase costs associated with the claims-administration process, thereby reducing the amount of settlement proceeds available,” the panel said in an opinion written by Justice Karen Nelson Moore.

 

Attorneys representing consumers in 2012 filed anti-trust lawsuits against dozens of auto manufacturers. The Department of Justice launched an investigation into price-fixing allegations, resulting in guilty pleas by 26 manufacturers that paid millions in fines.

 

The civil lawsuits were consolidated into a single case assigned to the U.S. District Court for Eastern Michigan in Detroit. The court approved four separate settlement agreements between the plaintiffs and 73 of the defendants from 2016 through November 2020.

 

FRS, a third-party administrator for auto insurers, did not get involved until May 2018. It sent a letter to U.S. District Judge Marianne O. Battani giving notice that its eight insurer clients had a subrogation interest in the settlement payments because they made total-loss payments to policyholders.

 

Court documents do not reveal...


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