Ninth Circuit Affirms Dismissal of Claims Against MH Client

Oakland, CA – The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit Court recently issued a unanimous decision affirming the trial court’s dismissal, with prejudice, of claims brought against an MH insurer client and its agent by a plaintiff for Unfair Competition, Financial Elder Abuse, and violation of the California Consumer Legal Remedies Act (“CLRA”). Plaintiff alleged that MH’s client and the agent improperly canceled a life insurance policy issued on the life of Plaintiff’s father and step-mother for non-payment of premiums. Plaintiff further alleged that the defendants concealed and discouraged the option of selling the Policy on the secondary market, a practice commonly referred to as “life settlement.”

The Ninth Circuit’s most recent decision marks the third time this pro se plaintiff has attempted to sue MH’s client based on these exact same claims. Plaintiff originally filed his lawsuit in Florida District Court in 2013. Following his unsuccessful appeal to the Eleventh Circuit of the District Court’s dismissal of his claims with prejudice, Plaintiff again filed suit in California state court. MH removed the case to the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California and filed a motion for sanctions against Plaintiff, again resulting in complete dismissal of Plaintiff’s claims with prejudice. Plaintiff appealed that dismissal, and the Ninth Circuit affirmed the dismissal on May 31, 2017.

Unwilling to concede defeat, Plaintiff once again filed a virtually identical complaint in May of 2020, this time in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California. On October 20, 2020, the District Court granted MH’s Motion to Dismiss with prejudice, based on res judicata and the applicable statutes of limitations. On August 17, 2021, the Ninth Circuit issued its decision affirming the district court’s judgment in favor of MH’s clients. The Ninth Circuit based its decision on its conclusion that Joseph’s claims were raised, or could have been raised, in Joseph’s prior federal action between the parties that resulted in a final judgment on the merits.

MH attorneys Jodi Swick and Erica Gibbons litigated the case.