A federal district court judge in Minnesota today denied class certification in a suit alleging racial discrimination against GEICO auto-insurance customers. The Maryland-based insurer is represented by Arnold & Porter.
Arnold & Porter lawyers called the decision in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota a “significant victory” for GEICO. Three plaintiffs alleged GEICO, sued in April 2006, favors insurance customers who have college degrees and who work in certain white-collar jobs. GEICO’s underwriting policy is computer-driven; jobs and education levels, among other characteristics, are assigned a numerical score. By proxy, the suit alleged, GEICO policies discriminated against blacks.
The plaintiffs, whose representation included Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll, are former GEICO policy holders who say they would return to the company if GEICO offered the individuals a competitive rate. Lawyers for the plaintiffs, including Cohen Milstein partner Joseph Sellers and associate Llezlie Green, argued GEICO gave unfavorable treatment to certain jobs because those occupations are disproportionately held by blacks.
U.S. District Judge Patrick Schiltz said in his 26-page ruling today that the “evidence of how and why GEICO uses occupation in underwriting—the evidence on which plaintiffs’ discrimination claims will turn—simply does not apply to the class as a whole.”
Arnold & Porter partners David Gersch and Elissa Preheim and counsel Anthony Franze briefed and argued the case for GEICO, which has more than 8 million auto policyholders.