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In re AIG Workers Compensation Insurance Policyholder Litigation

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

April 27, 2015

IN RE: AIG WORKERS COMPENSATION INSURANCE POLICYHOLDER LITIGATION. This relates to: All Actions, MDL No. 2519

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

ROBERT W. GETTLEMAN, District Judge.

Plaintiffs Beach Medical Marketing, Inc., D&J Plastics, Inc., Franjo, Inc., Hopson Seal-a-Lot, Inc., Jayarvee, Inc., JPS Collision, Inc., Mesa Cycles, Inc., Patrick Purdy, Inc., Philip J. Feitelson PSC and tmg-emedia, Inc. have brought a six count consolidated amended class action complaint against defendants American International Group, Inc., AIU Insurance Company, American Home Assurance Company, American Fuji Fire and Marine Insurance Company, American International Overseas Limited, Chartis Property Casualty Company, Commerce and Industry Insurance Company, Granite State Insurance Company, Illinois National Insurance Co., Insurance Company of the State of Pennsylvania, National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh, PA, New Hampshire Insurance Company, Yosemite Insurance Company, AIG Risk Management, Inc., and Maurice R. Greenberg, former Chairman and CEO of AIG (jointly "AIG"), alleging violations of the Racketeer Influence and Corrupt Organization Act ("RICO"), 18 U.S.C. § 1962(c), (d), common law fraud, negligent misrepresentation, unjust enrichment, and violations of various state consumer protection acts. Defendants have filed motions[1] to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim, arguing that all of plaintiffs' claims are barred by the applicable statutes of limitations. For the reasons stated below, the motions are granted.

BACKGROUND

Despite the considerable detail in their 134 page, 474 paragraph Consolidated Amended Class Action Complaint ("CAC"), plaintiffs' theory is really quite simple. Plaintiffs are all employers from 16 different states (the "Affected States") that are required to carry workers compensation Insurance ("WC insurance"). In many states, the WC insurance market is comprised of two submarkets: (1) the voluntary market, which provides coverage for companies able to purchase WC insurance in the open market; and (2) a residual (assigned risk) market for hirer risk companies unable to purchase WC insurance in the open market. Insurers that participate in the voluntary market are required by law to also participate in the residual market. Through certain state or industry-run pooling arrangements, some of the cost of providing insurance to the residual market is allocated to the voluntary market to ensure that employers can obtain assigned risk coverage if necessary. This system is predicated on the voluntary market insurers truthfully reporting their WC premiums to state insurance regulators and/or industry pools, so that the regulators and pools can allocate the costs of the residual market and pass the costs on to voluntary market insurers.[2]

Some states, including each of the Affected States, administer certain Special Purpose Funds ("SPFs") such as guaranty funds, fraud investigation funds, and second or subsequent injury funds. In the Affected States, some or all of the costs of administering these funds are paid by the employers who purchase WC insurance as a surcharge billed to the policyholders by the insurer and then passed on to the state. Each state's insurance regulators aggregate the WC insurers' premium data to determine the total amount of WC insurance written in that state for a given year. The regulators determine the amount of money needed to fund the SPFs, then calculate what percentage of the aggregate WC insurance written that amount equals. The regulators then instruct the insurers to add a surcharge to each policyholder (including plaintiffs) equal to that percentage of the policyholder's premium. This ensures that each policyholder pays its pro-rata share of the costs of maintaining the SPFs.

If an insurer provides inaccurate information as to the amount of WC insurance premiums it writes in a given state, the state's calculations are skewed. If, as plaintiff's allege of AIG, the insurer underreports the amount of WC insurance it writes, then the percentage of the total premiums reported needed to fund the SPFs will be higher (because the total amount of money necessary remains the same), thereby increasing the percentage of each policyholders' premium it pays as a surcharge.

For example, if a state has an SPF that requires $1 million to operate, and the aggregate premium written in the state in the previous year was $100 million, the state would institute a 1% surcharge assessed against each policyholder. Each policyholder would pay a surcharge of 1% of its WC insurance premium for that SPF. If an insurer underreported the amount of WC insurance premiums it wrote in the state by $25 million, the state would still need the $1 million to operate the fund, but believing that only $75 million was the aggregate premium written in the state, it would impose a surcharge of 1.3% instead of 1%. As a result, each policyholder would pay an inflated surcharge.

According to plaintiffs, beginning as early as 1970, AIG devised, implemented, participated in and carried out a number of nationwide schemes to "miss-catagorize, falsely report, and falsely book" its WC premiums as other premiums (for example general liability premiums), to reduce its expenses, inflate its profits, and unjustly enrich itself at the expense of plaintiffs. By issuing false certified annual financial reports that underreported the WC insurance premium figures, AIG evaded paying its equitable share of financial responsibility for state-levied taxes and assessments.

AIG's alleged underreporting caused the Affected States to miss-calculate the percentage surcharges needed to administer the SPFs, causing plaintiffs (and all WC insurance policyholders whether insured by AIG or other insurers) to pay artificially inflated amounts to fund the SPFs. As plaintiffs allege in ¶ 63 of the CAC, "[e]ach Affected State's miscalculations were the intended, foreseeable and, natural consequences of Defendants' fraud."

AIG accomplished this fraud and concealed its actions from state regulators, other insurers and policyholders, by keeping at least two separate sets of books. It kept an accurate set that tracked the amount of WC insurance premiums it collected from its policyholders and the actual amount of state mandated surcharges it collected from its policyholders. It also kept a second set of books that tracked inaccurate lesser amounts of WC insurance premiums that it reported to state regulators and the inaccurate lesser amount of state mandated surcharges that it collected from its policyholders and then remitted to the state. Only the false set of records was made available to state auditors.

By remitting to the state only the surcharges that the state expected based on the inaccurate underreported premiums, AIG was able to retain the difference from the amount it collected from all the WC insurance policyholders and the lower amount remitted. Thus, AIG's fraudulent underreporting of WC Insurance premiums allowed it both to evade state premium taxes it would have otherwise owed, and to profit unlawfully from the state mandated surcharges.

DISCUSSION

Defendants have moved to dismiss the entire CAC under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim, arguing that each of the claims are barred by the applicable statute of limitations.[3] A motion under Rule 12(b)(6) tests the sufficiency of the complaint, not the merits of the case. Gibson v. City of Chicago, 910 F.2d 1510, 1520 (7th Cir. 1990). The court accepts the well-pleaded factual allegations as true and draws all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor. McMillan v. Collection Professionals Inc., 455 F.3d 754, 758 (7th Cir. 2006). To state a claim, a complaint must allege facts that, if true, would raise a right to relief above the speculative level showing that the claim was plausible on its face. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007). To be plausible on its face the complaint must plead facts sufficient for the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the alleged misconduct. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 622, 678 (2009).[4]

The statute of limitations is an affirmative defense to liability that ordinarily must be pleaded and proved by the defendant. Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(c)(1); Jay E. Hayden Foundation v. First Neighbor Bank, N.A., 610 F.3d 382, 383 (7th Cir. 2010). "Complaints need not anticipate defenses and attempt to defeat them." Richards v. Mitcheff, 696 F.3d 635, 637 (7th Cir. 2012). As a result, the Seventh Circuit has often held that Rule 12(b)(6) is not designed for motions under Rule 8(c)(1). Id. (and cases cited therein). Nonetheless, "if it is plain from the complaint that the [statute of limitations] defense is indeed a bar to the suit dismissal is proper without further pleading." Jay E. Hayden, ...


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