Stack trims former nationwide class action down to 12 states

Steve Korris Aug. 10, 2005, 1:01pm

Circuit Judge Dan Stack

Madison County Circuit Judge Daniel Stack has reduced a once-heavy national class action suit against American Family Mutual Insurance even further from 17 states down to a trim 12.

Last year Stack scratched 33 states off the national class, and lopped off the other five on July 21.

Plaintiff Manual Hernandez claimed in 2000 that American Family improperly used computer software to reduce payments on medical claims from auto accidents.

In 2002, Stack certified Hernandez as representative of a class of plaintiffs, and subsequently denied American Family's motions to reconsider and to decertify.

Stack did, however, take his certification order under advisement. Last year he ruled that a nationwide class action would be unmanageable and asked the parties to appear again so he could decide which states should remain in the class.

After a hearing, he reduced the nationwide class to states where American Family does business - Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming.

American Family again moved to decertify the class. The motion stated that the insurer did not use the software in Kansas, Minnesota, North Dakota, Oregon, Utah or Colorado.

In his latest order, Stack denied the motion to decertify but dropped Kansas, Minnesota, North Dakota, Oregon and Utah. He allowed claims from Colorado since July 1, 2003.

For the remaining states he allowed claims since July 25, 1990.

The order covers those injured while driving or riding in autos that American Family insured, as well as medical providers with rights of assignment.

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