A Madison County couple suing national insurer over its "payback" program may have to pursue their class action claims in federal court.
Defendant Sentry Insurance removed the case to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois on Dec. 23 through attorneys W. Jason Rankin and Jason Johnson of HeplerBroom in Edwardsville.
Sentry argues that removal is appropriate based on diversity of citizenship and the amount in controversy.
The defendant also argues that provisions of the Class Action Fairness Act gives federal court jurisdiction over the case.
William and Mary Coleman, on behalf of themselves and others similarly situated, filed a lawsuit on Nov. 17 against Sentry.
According to the complaint, Sentry has offered the payback program and payback agreement since 1986 to persuade safe drivers to purchase its insurance with the promise that if a driver remained claim-free for five years, the defendant would start to refund them half of their earlier paid premiums and would continue to do so for each claim-free year.
Further, the defendant allegedly indicated it would continue to renew those safe driver policies. However, the plaintiffs claim that as they began qualifying for the refunds, Sentry “non-renewed” the policies and failed to execute the paybacks.
The plaintiffs allege breach of the insurance contracts, breach of the defendant’s duty of good faith and violation of Illinois consumer protection laws.
They also claim the defendant continued to sell these policies even after it said it would not renew the payback program.
The plaintiffs seek an unspecified amount for damages, plus interest, restitution, attorney’s fees and court costs.
They are represented by Christopher Koester of Taylor Law Offices in Effingham and Irwin Levin, Richard Shevitz, Vess Miller and Lynn Toops of Cohen & Malad in Indianapolis.
Madison County Circuit Court case number 15-L-1484