BTNL Attorneys Barze And McBrayer Obtain Win For Client
BTNL attorneys Bruce Barze and Sarah McBrayer obtained a significant victory for Service Corporation International (“SCI”), North America’s leading provider of funeral, cremation and cemetery services.
Two holders of Liberty National Life Insurance Co. burial policies intervened in a case before the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama and filed a motion asking the court to find SCI in contempt of prior court orders and seeking to certify a class action comprised of Liberty National policyholders.
In evaluating their motion, the court echoed the words of another judge who, in 1991, observed that “[t]his lawsuit, filed in 1970 on behalf of a class of Alabama funeral homes, has clung to life with a tenacity which, if it could be matched by humans, would undoubtedly have obviated the need for the ‘burial insurance’ that has been the subject of contention in the case for over  years.” Battle v. Liberty National Life Ins. Co., 770 F. Supp. 1499, 1501 (N.D. Ala. 1991).
In 1978, the district court had entered final judgment pursuant to a settlement agreement in three class actions alleging federal antitrust violations in the issuance, sale, and performance of certain burial and vault insurance policies. The final judgment established the rights and obligations of about 300 owners of some 400 funeral homes in Alabama and the rights under the burial policies of approximately 1 million policyholders. In March 1999, Judge Inge Johnson issued a Memorandum Opinion clarifying the terms of the 1978 Decree.
The Intervenors’ motion asserted that SCI committed two violations of the court’s prior orders in the case. They contended that SCI had impermissibly charged “Administrative Fees” from 2011-2019 and that SCI was discriminating between the prices charged to policyholders and non-policyholders for the same services. But, after careful review, the court concluded the Intervenors’ “motion failed at the first step: they have not shown by ‘clear and convincing’ evidence that SCI violated any applicable court order.”
The case is Edgar Battle v. Liberty National Ins. Co., in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama, Case no. 2:70-cv-00752-RDP. A copy of the court’s Memorandum Opinion and Order may be found here.
About Barze Taylor Noles Lowther LLC: Barze Taylor Noles Lowther LLC is a Birmingham, Alabama-based law firm with a national practice focused on litigation, insurance coverage issues, and environmental matters. For more information, visit www.btnllaw.com or follow @BTNL_law_firm.