About a year ago I noted on this blog the filing of a new putative class action in Indiana state court alleging that State Farm improperly failed to disclose to its insureds, in connection with the issuance of automobile policies, that State Farm may use staff counsel to defend them in lawsuits. (See my November 29, 2011 blog post.) The case was removed to the Northern District of Indiana. The court recently granted State Farm’s motion to dismiss.
The short opinion in Golden v State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., No. 1:11 CV 399 (N.D. Ind. Nov. 29, 2012) focused on the Indiana Supreme Court’s decision in Cincinnati Ins. Co. v. Wills, 717 N.E.2d 151 (Ind. 1999). In Wills, the Indiana Supreme Court did not decide whether disclosure of the use of staff counsel was required prior to a claim being made, but the court noted that “[a]s a general proposition, adequate disclosure is a matter in the first instance properly addressed through administrative regulation” by the commissioner of insurance. Golden, slip op. at 4 (quoting Willis, 717 N.E.2d at 156). The court in Golden concluded that dismissal was appropriate because “[t]he Willis court clearly placed the responsibility for articulating a duty of disclosure in the hands of the insurance commissioner, and plaintiff does not dispute that no such duty has yet been set forth by the Indiana Department of Insurance.” Id. at 4-5. The court declined to certify the question to the Indiana Supreme Court because it was not “genuinely uncertain” about the answer, nor was it a question of public importance. Id. at 6.
The docket does not indicate that a notice of appeal has been filed, although the time to do so has not yet expired.