SYMETRA CLASS ACTION
White, et al. v. Symetra Assigned Benefits Service Company, et al.
United States District Court Western District of Washington
Case No. 20-cv-01866
The Court appointed attorneys Edward Stone of Edward Stone Law PC, Alison Chase, Gretchen Freemen Cappio, Lynn Lincoln Sarko, Adele Daniel and Sydney Read of Keller Rohrback LLP, Daniel Simons of Marcus & Marcus PC, and Jerome Marcus and Jonathan Auerbach of Marcus & Auerbach LLC as class counsel.
When a tort victim settles with the tortfeasor, the parties sometimes agree to “structure” the settlement. A structured settlement provides payments over time, often for the life of the person, rather than as one lump sum payment. Structured settlements often take the form of a structured settlement annuity (SSA) issued by a life insurance company like Symetra. Structured settlements were designed to ensure that the injured person will have access to funds for medical care and other life necessities for years to come-and companies such as Defendants gained substantial tax benefits from issuing SSAs. Because they are intended to protect the person over the long term, SSAs often include terms that restrict the person’s ability to assign their payments to another person or entity.
Defendants Symetra Life Insurance Company and Symetra Assigned Benefits Service Company (SABSCO) issued many annuities to injured persons, with the promise to protect the injury victims’ long-term financial security. As alleged in Plaintiffs’ amended complaint, Defendants solicited Plaintiffs’ rights to their future payments as part of a business scheme. Defendants used their knowledge and unequal bargaining power to profit by purchasing Plaintiffs’ future payments at a steep discount in factoring transactions. In that process, Symetra misled Plaintiffs-the very same injury victims whose long-term financial interests they were supposed to protect-and took away the safety and security that their SSA was intended to provide.
Plaintiffs allege that this scheme violates RICO and Washington’s Consumer Protection Act, among other laws. It also breaches Symetra and SABSCO’s contractual duties to the annuitants.
The case is currently on appeal and pending in the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, No. 22-35748
On August 3, 2022, Judge Marsha J. Pechman of the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington issued an order granting class certification for claims under RICO, the Washington Consumer Protection Act, civil conspiracy, unjust enrichment, and contract claims in this case.
The Court certified the following class:
“All persons who are or were, at any time, annuitants of [a structured settlement annuity (“SSA”)] that contemplated life contingent payments issued by Symetra and who subsequently sold to a Symetra affiliate the right to receive payments from that SSA in a factoring transaction.”