Frequently Asked Questions
What is the purpose of the Notice?
A Court decided to allow a class action lawsuit to proceed against State Farm related to how it calculates cost of insurance charges deducted from policy owners’ account values. You have legal rights and options that you may exercise before trial. The trial is to decide whether the claims being made against State Farm are correct. The case may settle or be dismissed before a trial or on appeal.
Judge Nanette K. Laughrey of the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri is overseeing this case. The case is known as Vogt v. State Farm Life Insurance Company, Case No. 2:16-cv-04170-NKL. The person who sued, Michael Vogt, is called the “Plaintiff.” State Farm is called the “Defendant.”.
What does it mean if I received a notice about this?
A Notice was directed to you because you have been identified as a potential Class Member in the class action lawsuit, Vogt v. State Farm Life Insurance Company, pending in the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri, Case No. 2:16-cv-04170-NKL. If you are uncertain whether you are a member of the Class, contact Class Counsel listed below in FAQ 10, or your own attorney.
What is this lawsuit about?
A former State Farm Form 94030 policy owner, Michael Vogt, sued State Farm over cost of insurance charges deducted from policy owners’ account values.
The Court has allowed the lawsuit to proceed as a class action on behalf of all current and former Missouri 94030 policy owners, subject to certain exclusions.
This lawsuit is about whether State Farm's cost of insurance rates were authorized by the Form 94030 life insurance policy. You can read Plaintiff’s Class Action Complaint on the Important Documents page of this website. Form 94030 is a flexible premium adjustable whole life insurance policy that has a savings component called the “Account Value” that accumulates interest at or above a minimum rate guaranteed under the policy. The policy expressly authorizes State Farm to take a Monthly Deduction from the Account Value of a monthly expense charge, a cost of insurance charge, and the charge for any riders. Plaintiff alleges that State Farm violated the policy in two different ways. First, the policy permits State Farm to deduct a “Cost of Insurance Charge” calculated using a “Cost of Insurance Rate.” The Policy provides that Cost of Insurance Rates “for each policy year are based on the Insured’s age on the policy anniversary, sex, and applicable rate class,” and “can be adjusted for projected changes in mortality.” Plaintiff alleges that State Farm impermissibly considers factors other than the Insured’s age on the policy anniversary, sex, and applicable rate class when setting Cost of Insurance Rates for each policy year. Second, while the policy permits a separate “Expense Charge” of $5 per month, Plaintiff alleges that State Farm impermissibly includes amounts that should be in the “Expense Charge” in the “Cost of Insurance Rate.” Plaintiff also alleges State Farm’s actions of wrongfully deducting more money from policy holders’ Account Values than it is authorized to take make it liable for conversion.
The Court has not decided whether State Farm did anything wrong. There is no money available now and no certainty there will be. However, your legal rights are affected and you have a choice to make now. The person who sued, Michael Vogt, is called the “Plaintiff” State Farm is called the “Defendant.”
What are the Plaintiffs Asking for?
The Plaintiffs are asking that the Class be compensated for amounts that were included in the cost of insurance beyond what they believe the policy allows, and a declaration that Defendant has breached the policy terms. Plaintiffs also seek attorneys’ fees, pre-judgment and post-judgment interest, punitive damages, and such other relief the Court permits.
How Does State Farm Answer?
State Farm denies these claims. State Farm argues that the Policy expressly authorizes State Farm to take a Monthly Deduction from the Account Value. The Monthly Deduction includes the cost of insurance, the monthly charges for any riders, and a $5.00 monthly expense charge. A Monthly Cost of Insurance Rate is used to calculate the Cost of Insurance Charge. Per the Policy, Monthly Cost of Insurance Rates charged to any policyholder are based on the Insured’s age on the policy anniversary, sex, and applicable rate class. A table in the Policy sets forth the maximum Cost of Insurance rates that State Farm is permitted to charge. State Farm never charged Plaintiff a Cost of Insurance rate in excess of the maximums allowed under the terms of the Policy. Because State Farm charged rates consistent with the terms of the Policy, State Farm did not violate the terms of the Policy or wrongfully take policyholders’ money. You can read Defendant’s Answer to Plaintiff’s Class Action Complaint on the Important Documents page of this website
Why is this a class action?
In a class action lawsuit, one or more people called “Class Representatives” (in this case Michael Vogt) sue on behalf of other people who have similar claims. Together, those other people are a “Class” or “Class Members.” The Class Representative(s) who sued—and all the Class Members like them—are called the Plaintiffs. The company they sued (in this case State Farm) is called the Defendant. One court resolves the issues for everyone in the Class—except for those people who choose to exclude themselves from the Class.
The Court decided that this lawsuit can be a class action and move toward a trial because it meets the requirements of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23, which governs class actions in federal courts. Specifically, the Court found that the Class Members are sufficiently numerous, there are questions of law and fact that are common to all Class Members that predominate over questions affecting individual Class Members, the Class Representative’s claims are typical of those of the Class, the Class Representative and Class Counsel are adequate to represent the Class, and proceeding as a Class is superior to the alternatives.
The Court has not decided whether Plaintiff or Defendant is right. By establishing the Class and issuing the Notice, the Court is not suggesting that the Plaintiffs will win or lose this case.
Is there a settlement? Is any Money available now?
No money or benefits are available now because the Court has not yet decided whether State Farm did anything wrong, and the two sides have not settled the case. There is no guarantee that money or benefits ever will be obtained. If benefits are obtained, you are a class member and you do not remove yourself from the Class, you will be compensated or be notified about how to ask for a share of the proceeds.
How and when will the Court decide who is right?
Unless the case is resolved by a settlement or otherwise, Class Counsel will have to prove the Plaintiffs’ claims at a trial. The trial is set to start on June 1, 2018, in the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri, Courtroom 4A, 80 Lafayette Street, Jefferson City, Missouri, 65101. During the trial, a Jury or the Judge will hear all of the evidence to help them reach a decision about whether the Plaintiffs or Defendant are right about the claims in the lawsuit.
You do not need to attend the trial. Class Counsel will present the case for the Plaintiffs, and State Farm will present the defenses. You or your own lawyer are welcome to come to the trial at your own expense.
Who is in the Class
How do I know if I am a part of the class?
Judge Laughrey has certified a Class that includes:
all persons who own or owned a universal life insurance policy issued by State Farm in Missouri on Form 94030 subject to certain important exclusions.
If someone who would otherwise be a Class Member is deceased, his or her legal heirs are Class Members.
The Class excludes: State Farm; any entity in which State Farm has a controlling interest; any of the officers, directors, or employees of State Farm; the legal representatives, heirs, successors, and assigns of State Farm; anyone employed with Plaintiff’s counsel’s firms; and any Judge to whom this case is assigned, and his or her immediate family. The Class also excludes policy owners who did not suffer any harm. If these exclusions apply to you, you are not a member of the proposed class.
The Lawyers Representing You
Do I have lawyers in this case?
Yes. The Court appointed the following lawyers as “Class Counsel” to represent all the members of the Class:
Norman E. Siegel
Stueve Siegel Hanson LLP
460 Nichols Rd., Suite 200
Kansas City, MO 64112
John J. Schirger
Miller Schirger LLC
4520 Main Street, Suite 1570
Kansas City, MO 64111
If you have questions, you may contact these lawyers. You will not be charged for contacting these lawyers.
You do not need to hire your own lawyer because Class Counsel is working on your behalf. But, if you want to be represented by your own lawyer, you may hire one at your own expense. You can ask him or her to appear in Court for you in this case if want someone other than Class Counsel to speak for you.
How will the lawyers be paid?
Class Counsel have not been paid or reimbursed for their time and expenses incurred in pursuing this case. You will not have to pay these fees and expenses. If Class Counsel obtains money or benefits for the Class, they may ask the Court for fees and expenses. If the Court grants Class Counsel’s request, the fees and expenses would be either deducted from any money obtained for the Class or paid separately by State Farm
What Are My Rights And How Do I Exercise Them
Do Nothing – Remain in the Class
You don’t have to do anything now if you want to keep the possibility of getting money or benefits from this lawsuit. By doing nothing you are staying in the Class and you will be legally bound by all of the Orders the Court issues and judgments the Court makes in this class action. If you stay in the Class and the Plaintiffs obtain money or benefits, either as a result of the trial or a settlement, you will either be compensated automatically or be notified about how to apply for a share. Keep in mind that if you do nothing now, regardless of whether the Plaintiffs win or lose the trial, you will not be able to sue State Farm about any legal claim that is or could have been included in this lawsuit.
How do I ask the Court to exclude me from the Class?
To ask to be excluded, also sometimes referred to as “opting out” of the class, you must send an “Exclusion Request” in the form of a letter sent by mail, stating that you want to be excluded from Vogt v. State Farm Life Insurance Company. Be sure to include your name, policy number and address, and sign the letter. A form for your use was included with your notice.
You must mail your Exclusion Request postmarked by May 31, 2018, to:
Class Action Opt Out & Objection
Attn: Vogt v. State Farm
PO Box 30456
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Getting More Information
How do I get more information?
Visit the Important Documents page of this website to review additional documents including the Court’s Order Certifying the Class, the Court’s Order Denying Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment, the Complaint that the Plaintiffs submitted, the Defendant’s Answer to the Complaint, as well as an Exclusion Request form, email the Notice Administrator at SFCOILitigation@AdministratorClassAction.com or call 844-830-5234.
PLEASE DO NOT CALL OR WRITE TO
THE COURT OR CLERK OF THE COURT REGARDING THE NOTICE.