Wystan Ackerman

Wystan Ackerman

Wystan Ackerman is a partner in Robinson+Cole’s Insurance + Reinsurance Group and handles a diverse range of property insurance litigation, including large business interruption cases, class actions, other complex litigation, and appeals. He also has substantial experience representing insurance companies in putative class actions involving homeowners’ insurance coverage and market conduct/claim-handling practices. He has been prominently involved in high-profile property insurance litigation concerning the September 11th catastrophe and Hurricane Katrina, and Chinese-made drywall. Based in the insurance capital of Hartford, Connecticut, Wystan writes the blog Insurance Class Actions Insider, which was selected by Lexis Nexis as a top insurance blog for 2011.

Wystan grew up in Deep River, Connecticut, a small town on the west side of the Connecticut River in the south central part of the state. He always had strong interests in history, politics and baseball and his heroes growing up were Abraham Lincoln and Wade Boggs (at that time the third baseman for the Boston Red Sox). Wystan says it was his early fascination with Lincoln that drove him to practice law. As a high school senior, he was one of Connecticut’s two delegates to the U.S. Senate Youth Program, which further solidified his interest in law and government. He went on to Bowdoin College, where he wrote for the Bowdoin Orient and majored in government. After Bowdoin, he went on to Columbia Law School. He also interned in the chambers of then-Judge Sonia Sotomayor on the Second Circuit. Wystan graduated from Columbia in 2001, then worked at Skadden Arps in Boston before returning to Connecticut and joining Robinson+Cole.

When Wystan’s not at his desk, flying around the country trying to save insurance companies from the plaintiffs’ bar, or attending a conference on class actions or insurance litigation he often can be found watching “Dora the Explorer” or reading or playing whiffleball with his young daughter, helping his wife with her business, Option Realty, reading a book about history or politics, or watching the Boston Red Sox.

Read Wystan’s rc.com bio.

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Labor Depreciation Class Actions Heating Up Across The Country

Class action litigation is spreading across the country involving the application of depreciation in calculating the actual cash value of property damage under homeowners and commercial property insurance policies. This blog post will be longer than typical, but I think you will find it worth reading. The Issue: For decades, insurers have been using replacement-cost-less-depreciation … Continue Reading

Injunction in Aid of Class Action Settlement Addressed by Seventh Circuit

Defendants who are defending multiple class actions involving the same issue in different jurisdictions can sometimes be faced with a quandary when they want to settle. They might reach a settlement agreement with plaintiffs’ counsel in one of the cases, but until that settlement is final, which typically takes months, they may have to continue … Continue Reading

Comcast, Superiority, Predominance and Injunctive Relief Addressed in Recent Second Circuit Class Certification Opinions

The Second Circuit recently addressed a panoply of class certification issues in two opinions. Both decisions ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, but will help defendants tailor their arguments in future cases. Roach v. T.L. Cannon Group, No. 13-3070-cv, 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 2054 (2d Cir. Feb. 10, 2015) addressed whether the Supreme Court’s decision … Continue Reading

Can A Certified Class Include Uninjured Parties? First Circuit Majority Says “Yes,” In Some Instances

One of the “hot” issues in class actions today is whether, or to what extent, a class can be defined to include members who were not injured, and do not have standing to sue. The First Circuit recently addressed this in a 2-1 decision, concluding that “class certification is permissible even if the class includes … Continue Reading

Premium Refund Theory in Insurance Class Action Rejected By Michigan Federal District Court

One theory that has been raised by plaintiffs’ lawyers in some insurance class actions is that policyholders should receive a partial refund of their premiums because they are not receiving the coverage they paid for, or coverage purchased is illusory. A recent Michigan federal district court opinion rejected this theory on the grounds that: (1) … Continue Reading

Cy Pres Distributions in Class Action Settlements Addressed By Eighth Circuit

Over the last several years, federal courts of appeals have been closely scrutinizing cy pres distributions to charitable organizations in class action settlements. This includes opinions by the First Circuit, Third Circuit and Ninth Circuit. The general thrust of these decisions is that cy pres should be used sparingly, and the charitable organization should be … Continue Reading

Offer of Judgment to Named Plaintiff Did Not Moot Putative Class Action, According to Eleventh Circuit

Following the Supreme Court’s decision in Genesis Healthcare Corp. v. Symczyk, 133 S. Ct. 1523 (2013), lawyers have debated whether a defendant can defeat a class action by offering full relief to the named plaintiff(s), either before a class is certified, or before a motion for class certification is filed. Last week, the Eleventh Circuit … Continue Reading

State Enforcement Actions Following Class Settlements Addressed By Ninth Circuit

A recent Ninth Circuit decision caught my eye. It addressed whether a state enforcement action can be barred by a class action settlement on the same issue, finding that it was barred in part, to the extent the suit sought restitution that was the same relief at issue in the class action. In People v. … Continue Reading

Class Action Settlement: Judge Posner Strikes Again At Excessive Plaintiffs’ Attorneys’ Fees

Judge Posner of the Seventh Circuit continues to be prolific in authoring class action-related opinions. I enjoy blogging about these decisions because they are entertaining to read and usually relatively short and to the point, making them easy to get through and summarize here. This opinion, once again, concluded that an award of attorneys’ fees … Continue Reading

Total Loss Valuations: Class Certified By Louisiana Federal Court

Insurers or their vendors generally use software to perform valuations of vehicles for total losses on auto insurance claims. This software will typically use databases of recent sales or prices offered for comparable vehicles in the area to estimate a vehicle’s value, and enable adjustments to be made for equipment, mileage, condition and other factors. … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Oral Argument in Dart Cherokee Basin v. Owens

The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral argument this week in Dart Cherokee Basin Operating Co. v. Owens, No. 13-719 (SCOTUSblog page) (transcript). This case involves whether a defendant must provide evidence with its notice of removal under the Class Action Fairness Act to support the amount in controversy. I wrote about this case after certiorari … Continue Reading

Attorneys’ Fees In Class Action Settlements Addressed By Judge Posner

Judge Posner of the Seventh Circuit is a frequent author of class action-related opinions. His most recent one reversed an order approving a class action settlement because the attorneys’ fee award was too high.  The case involved claims that RadioShack violated the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act by putting expiration dates for credit card … Continue Reading

Class Action Against State Auto Concerning Homeowners’ Policy Limits Is One Worth Watching

Insurers typically adjust (or propose to adjust) the policy limits on a homeowners’ policy every year to take into account changes in the cost of construction. This is intended to help insureds make sure that sufficient coverage is available if there is a total loss. At the same time, this can result in an increase … Continue Reading

Summer Reading on Insurance Class Actions

If you read this blog, you have an interest in the very exciting subject of class actions against insurance companies. Either that or, more likely, it’s useful to your job to read the blog. If you have some downtime as the Summer winds down, and actually feel like reading even more about class actions, I’ve … Continue Reading

Affirmative Defenses Must Be Addressed In Class Certification Order, According To Texas Court of Appeals

A recent decision of the Texas Court of Appeals in Austin (Third District) caught my eye. Not because it involved insurance; rather, it was a securities class action challenging a board of directors’ approval of a corporate transaction. See Brigham Exploration Co. v. Boytim, No. 03-13-00191-CV, 2014 Tex. App. LEXIS 9068 (Tex. Ct. App. – … Continue Reading

Retained Asset Account ERISA Class Action: First Circuit Overturns Judgment in Favor of Plaintiffs

One of the hot areas of class action litigation against life insurers over the last few years has been the use of retained asset accounts, whereby the insurer pays life insurance proceeds not by a lump sum but instead by providing beneficiaries with access to an interest-bearing account from which the funds can be drawn.  … Continue Reading

Class Action Settlement in Pella Windows Case Overturned By Seventh Circuit

One of the prominent cases in which a products liability class action has been certified in recent years is Pella Corp. v. Saltzman, 606 F.3d 391 (7th Cir. 2010), involving windows that allegedly contained a design defect that allowed water infiltration.  After the class was certified, a settlement was reached and approved by the federal … Continue Reading

Statistical Sampling in Class Actions Addressed By California Supreme Court

Back in February of 2012, I wrote a blog post about a California Court of Appeal decision addressing the use of statistical sampling in class actions.  The California Supreme Court recently granted review and affirmed the Court of Appeal’s decision that the trial court improperly allowed the case to be tried based on statistical evidence … Continue Reading

Strategies for Removal Under Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA): ABA Corporate Counsel Article

I recently published an article in the ABA Corporate Counsel newsletter, entitled “Strategies for Removal Under the Class Action Fairness Act.”  It is intended to serve as a quick guide to removal under the Class Action Fairness Act and addresses the key recent decisions, although it does not attempt to cover the entire landscape.  It’s … Continue Reading
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