On Behalf of Insurer, Wiggin and Dana Nets Biggest Known Reversal of Class Action Judgment in Connecticut
Wiggin and Dana successfully represented Hartford Fire Insurance Company in an appeal from a $34,765,556.27 judgment in a class action alleging violations of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA). It is believed to be the largest CUTPA judgment ever reversed on appeal, as well as the largest class action judgment of any sort ever reversed by the Connecticut appellate court. The decision fully vindicates Hartford Fire and concludes that neither Hartford nor its employees did anything wrong.
The plaintiffs, a class of auto body repair shops, argued that Hartford Fire's use of its staff motor vehicle physical damage appraisers to negotiate labor rates for repairs violated CUTPA by compromising the appraisers' impartiality. The jury returned a $14,765,556.27 verdict based on the incorrect understanding that the appraisers had a duty of impartiality to the repair shops in negotiating rates. The trial court judge added a $20,000,000 punitive damages verdict and a permanent injunction. On appeal, the Connecticut Supreme Court reversed unanimously, erasing the $35 million judgment and directing judgment for Hartford Fire. The decision is available here.
Jonathan Freiman, who chairs the firm's Appellate Practice Group, argued the appeal and led the Wiggin team, which included Aaron Bayer, Robert Langer and Benjamin Daniels.