Thompson et al v. State Farm Fire and Casualty Company

www.statefarmdiminishedvaluelitigation.com


Frequently Asked Questions

All capitalized terms not otherwise defined on this website shall have the meaning ascribed to them in the Settlement Agreement dated May 8, 2018. The Settlement Agreement is available on the Court Documents section of this website.

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1. What are the lawsuits about?

State Farm policyholders have sued State Farm Fire and Casualty Company (“State Farm”), alleging that State Farm breached its homeowners policies in Georgia by by failing to assess for and, where found pay, diminished value arising from certain kinds of claims under the homeowners policies. “Diminished value” means a loss in value because of physical damage, even after the damage has been fully repaired. An “assessment” for diminished value is finding out whether a particular home has suffered diminished value. There are two lawsuits asserting these claims:

  • One lawsuit (the Thompson case) involves homeowners insurance claims with dates of loss between January 22, 2008 and January 24, 2017 for damage caused by flood, water, or back-up of sewer or drain.

  • The other lawsuit (the Long case) involves homeowners insurance claims with dates of loss between January 25, 2011 and February 4, 2018 for damage caused by any of the following: flood, water, back-up of sewer or drain, fire, wind or hail, mold or fungus, or which involved foundation repairs.

  • The Court in charge of this case still has to decide whether to approve the settlement. The relief provided under the Settlement Agreement will only be provided if the Court approves the settlement and such approval is upheld after any appeals are resolved. The Court in charge of the case is the United States District Court for the Middle District of Georgia, and the cases involved in the settlement are Thompson v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Co., Civil Action No. 5:14-cv-32-MTT and Long v. State Farm Fire and Casualty Co., Civil Action No. 5:17-cv-00028.

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2. Why is this a class action?

In a class action, one or more people, called Class Representatives (in this settlement, John and Leigh Ann Thompson and Tonya and Jason Long) sue on behalf of people who have similar claims. All these people are a Class or Class Members. One court resolves the class issues for all Class Members, except for those Class Members who exclude themselves. United States District Judge Marc T. Treadwell is in charge of the Thompson and Long class actions.

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3. Why is there a settlement?

Both sides agreed to a settlement to avoid the cost, delay, and uncertainty of further litigation. Class Counsel think that the settlement is the best interests of the Settlement Classes and that the settlement is fair, adequate, and reasonable.

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4. Who is in the settlement classes?

On August 10, 2018, the Court entered an Order preliminarily approving the Settlement and defining the following Classes, all of which are part of the settlement:

  1. The Thompson Settlement Class includes all current or former policyholders insured under a State Farm homeowners insurance policy that provided coverage for property located in the State of Georgia who made a “Coverage A – Dwelling” claim under the policy (A) that had a date of loss between January 22, 2008 and January 24, 2017; and (B) that was coded by State Farm with Cause of Loss Code 17 (flood), Code 37 (water), and/or Code 47 (back-up of sewer or drain).

  2. The Long Settlement Class includes two groups:
    1. All current or former policyholders insured under a State Farm homeowners insurance policy that provided coverage for property located in the State of Georgia who made a “Coverage A – Dwelling” claim under the policy (A) that had a date of loss between January 25, 2017 and February 4, 2018; and (B) that was coded by State Farm with Cause of Loss Code 17 (flood), Code 37 (water), and/or Code 47 (back-up of sewer or drain);

      AND

    2. All current or former policyholders insured under a State Farm homeowners insurance policy that provided coverage for property located in the State of Georgia who made a “Coverage A – Dwelling” claim under the policy (A) that had a date of loss between January 25, 2011 and February 4, 2018; (B) that was reported to State Farm on or before February 4, 2018; (C) that were coded by State Farm with Cause of Loss Codes other than Code 17 (flood), Code 37 (water), or Code 47 (back-up of sewer or drain); and (D) which fall into one of the following categories: fire claims (Loss Code 33), wind/hail claims (Loss Code 35), claims which include Reason Code M (remediation of mold) or which contain a payment under the “Fungus (including mold) endorsement,” and claims with foundation repairs included on the Xactimate estimates prepared by State Farm.

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5. What is the settlement benefit? What do I get?

If the settlement receives final approval, members of either the Thompson Settlement Class or the Long Settlement Class (that is, each “Settlement Class Member”) will receive relief as follows:

  1. Other than Settlement Class Members who fall into one or more of the categories described in (d) below, each Settlement Class Member whose claim had a date of loss on or after May 29, 2011 for which the Coverage A - Dwelling payment was $3,500.00 or greater will receive a diminished value assessment of the covered loss using the “Assessment Methodology” set forth in the settlement agreement, and available here.

    After the assessment, the Settlement Class Member will receive a written notice of the results of the assessment, including whether or not the Settlement Class Member was found to have diminished value, and of the Settlement Class Member’s right to challenge the results of the assessment, including applicable time limits to make such a challenge. If the assessment indicates the insured property had diminished value, State Farm will include with the written notification a payment to the Settlement Class Member in the amount of the diminished value found to exist. If the Settlement Class Member receives additional payment for diminished value as a result of the assessment and accepts the payment, that Settlement Class Member waives any right to appeal or challenge the assessment’s findings.

  2. Other than Settlement Class Members who fall into one or more of the categories described in (d) below, each Settlement Class Member whose claim had a date of loss on or after May 29, 2011 for which the Coverage A payment was between $500.00 and $3,499.99, and whose claim falls into one of the categories listed below, will also receive a diminished value assessment of the covered loss using the “Assessment Methodology” set forth in the settlement agreement, and available here.

    The included categories are: fire damage (Loss Code 33); claims which include Reason Code M (remediation of mold) or which contain a payment under the “Fungus (including mold) endorsement”; claims which include Reason Code W (water mitigation work performed by vendors with structural Cause of Loss codes 37 [water] or 47 [back-up of sewer or drain]); claims with a payment under the Back-up of Sewer or Drain endorsement; and claims in which foundation repairs are included on the Xactimate estimates prepared by State Farm.

    After the assessment, the Settlement Class Member will receive a written notice of the results of the assessment, including whether or not the Settlement Class Member was found to have diminished value, and of the Settlement Class Member’s right to challenge the results of the assessment, including applicable time limits to make such a challenge. If the assessment indicates the insured property had diminished value, State Farm will include with the written notification a payment to the Settlement Class Member in the amount of the diminished value found to exist. If the Settlement Class Member receives additional payment for diminished value as a result of the assessment and accepts the payment, that Settlement Class Member waives any right to appeal or challenge the assessment’s findings.

  3. Other than Settlement Class Members who fall into one or more of the categories described in (d) below, Settlement Class Members not in either of the categories described in (a) and (b) above will receive a written notice explaining that they can request a diminished value assessment and how to request such an assessment.

    When a Settlement Class Member requests a diminished value assessment, after the assessment, the Settlement Class Member will receive a written notice of the results of the assessment, including whether or not the Settlement Class Member was found to have diminished value, and of the Settlement Class Member’s right to challenge the results of the assessment, including applicable time limits to make such a challenge. If the assessment indicates the insured property had diminished value, State Farm will include with the written notification a payment to the Settlement Class Member in the amount of the diminished value found to exist. If the Settlement Class Member receives additional payment for diminished value as a result of the assessment and accepts the payment, that Settlement Class Member waives any right to appeal or challenge the assessment’s findings.

  4. The following Settlement Class Members will not receive relief provided for in paragraphs (a), (b), or (c) above: (1) Settlement Class Members whose claims were “Closed Without Payment”; (2) Settlement Class Members as to whom the applicable coverage limits previously were paid on the applicable claim(s); and (3) Settlement Class Members as to whom State Farm Policy Endorsement FE-5621, entitled “Diminution in Value Loss Restriction,” was in effect on the applicable date of loss via a newly-issued policy of insurance.

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6. How do I know which benefit group I am in?

Please call the following toll-free number and the Administrator will provide your benefit group category: 1-888-269-1605 or email the Administrator at info@statefarmdiminishedvaluelitigation.com.

Benefits provided will depend on which category the Settlement Class Member’s claim falls under.

  • CLASS MEMBERS WHO FALL UNDER CATEGORY A OR B

    Claims that are categorized as a Category A or Category B, will automatically receive a diminished value assessment of the covered loss. The Court still has to decide at the Final Fairness Hearing on January 7, 2019 whether to issue a final approval of the settlement. The relief provided under the Settlement Agreement, including any assessments, will only be provided if the Court approves the settlement and such approval is upheld after any appeals are resolved. If approved, State Farm will mail you a letter directly with more information regarding any assessments that may be included as a part of your relief. Please be patient.

    After the assessment, the Settlement Class Member will receive a written notice of the results of the assessment, including whether or not they were found to have diminished value, and of their right to challenge the results of the assessment, including applicable time limits to make such a challenge.

    • If the assessment indicates the insured property had diminished value, State Farm will include a payment to the Settlement Class Member with the written notification, in the amount of the diminished value found to exist.
    • If the assessment indicates that the insured property had no diminished value, the Settlement Class Member will not receive any payment.
    • If the Settlement Class Member receives additional payment for diminished value as a result of the assessment and accepts the payment, that Settlement Class Member waives any right to appeal or challenge the assessment’s findings.

  • CLASS MEMBERS WHO FALL UNDER CATEGORY C

    The Court still has to decide at the Final Fairness Hearing on January 7, 2019 whether to issue a final approval of the settlement. The relief provided under the Settlement Agreement, including any assessments, will only be provided if the Court approves the settlement and such approval is upheld after any appeals are resolved. If approved, State Farm will mail you a letter directly with more information regarding any assessments that may be included as a part of your relief. Please be patient.’

    Claims categorized as a Category C claim, will receive a written notice explaining that they can request a diminished value assessment and how to request such an assessment.

    If the claimant requests and receives an assessment, after the assessment, the Settlement Class Member will receive a written notice of the results of the assessment, including whether or not they were found to have diminished value, and of their right to challenge the results of the assessment, including applicable time limits to make such a challenge.

    • If the assessment indicates the insured property had diminished value, State Farm will include a payment to the Settlement Class Member with the written notification, in the amount of the diminished value found to exist.
    • If the assessment indicates that the insured property had no diminished value, the Settlement Class Member will not receive any payment.
    • If the Settlement Class Member receives additional payment for diminished value as a result of the assessment and accepts the payment, that Settlement Class Member waives any right to appeal or challenge the assessment’s findings.
  • CLASS MEMBERS WHO FALL UNDER CATEGORY D

    If you are a Class Member under Category D, you are not entitled to a diminished value assessment under the Settlement Agreement. Category D consists of Settlement Class Members whose claims were “Closed without Payment,” Settlement Class Members as to whom the applicable coverage limits were previously paid on the applicable claim(s), and Settlement Class Members as to whom State Farm policy endorsement FE-5621, entitled “Diminution in Value Loss Restriction,” was in effect on the applicable date of loss via a newly-issued policy of insurance.

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7. What am I giving up?

Every Settlement Class Member who does not exclude himself or herself from the Settlement Classes will release all claims arising out of or relating to State Farm’s alleged failure to assess for diminished value with respect to that Class Member’s insurance claim. Any Settlement Class member who receives a diminished value payment from State Farm after a diminished value assessment and does not challenge the amount of the payment within the time allowed also releases all claims arising out of or relating to State Farm’s alleged failure to pay diminished value.

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8. Do I have a lawyer in this case?

The Court asked the following lawyers to represent you and other Class Members: Adam P. Princenthal, C. Cooper Knowles, Clinton W. Sitton, James C. Bradley, Michael J. Brickman, Nina Fields Britt, Kimberly Keevers Palmer, and Richard Kopelman. Together, these lawyers are called Class Counsel. You will not be charged for these lawyers. If you want to be represented by your own lawyer, you may hire one at your own expense.

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9. How will the lawyers be paid?

Class Counsel will ask the Court for attorneys’ fees and expenses up to $6,700,000, and payments of $10,000 (Thompsons) and $5,000 (Longs) to the Class Representatives. The Court may award less than these amounts. State Farm will separately pay the fees and expenses that the Court awards. No Settlement Class Member will have to pay for Class Counsel’s fees or expenses.

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10. How do I get out of the settlement?

If you don’t want benefits from this settlement, but you want to keep the right to sue or continue to sue State Farm, on your own, about the legal issues in this case, then you must take steps to get out. This is called excluding yourself – or is sometimes referred to as opting out of the Settlement Class.

To exclude yourself from the settlement you must submit a written request, postmarked on or before December 26, 2018 to the address below. The written notice must include the Settlement Class Member’s name and address; a clear an unequivocal statement that the Class Member wishes to be excluded from the Settlement Classes; and the signature of the Settlement Class Member or his or her legally authorized representative. The notice must be sent to:

Thompson v. State Farm Fire and Casualty Company C/O GCG P.O. Box 10607 Dublin, OH 43017-9207

You can’t exclude yourself on the phone or by e-mail.

If a Settlement Class Member submits an exclusion request and then decides that they would like to opt back into the Settlement Classes, the Settlement Class Member may submit a written notice to the address above rescinding his or her exclusion request. Any such noticed must be postmarked on or before December 31, 2018; it must be in writing; it must include the Settlement Class Member’s name and address; it must be signed by the Settlement Class Member or his or her legally authorized representative, and it must contain a sentence stating: “The undersigned hereby rescinds his or her request for exclusion from the Settlement Agreement for the Resolution of the Thompson and Long Actions.”

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11. If I exclude myself, can I still get benefits from the settlement?

No. If you exclude yourself, you will not get any benefits from the settlement.

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12. If I don’t exclude myself, can I sue State Farm for the same thing later?

No. Unless you exclude yourself, you give up the right to sue State Farm for the claims that this settlement resolves, other than your right to challenge the findings of a diminished-value assessment of your property under the Settlement Agreement. If you have a pending lawsuit against State Farm about diminished value, speak to your lawyer in that lawsuit immediately. If you do exclude yourself so that you can start or continue your own lawsuit against State Farm, you should talk to your own lawyer soon, because your claims may be barred by a statute of limitations. Remember, the exclusion deadline is December 26, 2018.

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13. How do I tell the Court that I don’t like the settlement?

If you are a Settlement Class Member and do not exclude yourself from the Settlement Class, you can object to the settlement if you don’t like any part of it. You can give reasons why the Court should not approve it. The Court will consider your views. To object, you must do so by written notice filed with the Clerk of Court not later than December 26, 2018 and postmarked no later than December 26, 2018. The notice must contain:

  1. A heading, which includes the name of the Action and the case number;

  2. The full name, address, and signature of the Class Member or his or her legally authorized representative;

  3. The specific reasons why the Class Member objects to the proposed settlement;

  4. If the objecting Class Member intends to appear at the Final Approval Hearing, a statement to that effect, as well as (i) a detailed statement of the specific legal and factual basis for each objection being asserted; (ii) a list of any and all witnesses whom the objecting Class Member may call at the Final Approval Hearing, with the address of each witness and a summary of the proposed testimony; (iii) a detailed description of any evidence, with copies of the exhibits attached, the objecting Class Member may offer at the Final Approval Hearing; and (iv) proof of membership in one of the Settlement Classes.

Any objection filed with the court must comply with all applicable laws and rules for filing documents in the Court, and must state whether the Class Member intends to appear at the Final Approval Hearing.

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14. What’s the difference between objecting and excluding myself?

Objecting is simply telling the Court that you don’t like something about the settlement. You can object only if you stay in the class. Excluding yourself is telling the Court that you don’t want to be part of the Class. If you exclude yourself, you have no basis to object because the case no longer affects you.

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15. When and where will the Court decide whether to approve the settlement?

The Court will hold a Final Fairness Hearing at 10:00 a.m. on January 7, 2019, at the William A. Bootle Federal Building and United States Courthouse, 475 Mulberry Street, Macon, Georgia, 31201. At this hearing the Court will consider whether the settlement is fair, reasonable, and adequate. If there are objections, the Court will consider them. Judge Treadwell will listen to people who have asked to speak at the hearing. The Court may also decide how much Class Counsel will be paid. After the hearing, the Court will decide whether to approve the settlement. We do not know how long these decisions will take.

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16. Do I have to come to the hearing?

No. Class Counsel will answer questions Judge Treadwell may have. But, you are welcome to come at your own expense. If you send an objection, you don’t have to come to Court to talk about it. As long as you filed your written objection on time, the Court will consider it. You may also pay your own lawyer to attend, but it’s not necessary.

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17. May I speak at the hearing?

You may ask the Court for permission to speak at the hearing by following the procedure for objections outlined above in FAQ 13 and in the settlement agreement, including the requirement that your objection/request be postmarked by December 26, 2018. You cannot speak at the hearing if you excluded yourself.

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18. What happens if I do nothing at all?

If you do nothing, you may be entitled to settlement relief as outlined above. But, unless you exclude yourself, you won’t be able to start a lawsuit, continue with a lawsuit, or be part of any other lawsuit against State Farm about the legal issues in this case, ever again.

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19. Are there more details about the settlement?

This website only summarizes the litigation and the settlement. More detailed information can be found in the Court Documents here.

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20. How can I get more information?

For more information, or if you have questions about the settlement, you may contact the Administrator at the address, toll-free phone number, or email address below.

Thompson v. State Farm Fire and Casualty Company C/O GCG P.O. Box 10607 Dublin, OH 43017-9207 Toll-Free: 1-888-269-1605 Email: info@statefarmdiminishedvaluelitigation.com

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