Mehri & Skalet, along with co-counsel Consumer Watchdog and Mason, Lietz & Klinger, is representing current and former enlisted service members of the military in a class action lawsuit against the United Services Automobile Association (USAA), a company that provides banking, financial and insurance services to U.S. military members and their families. The lawsuit alleges that USAA discriminates against enlisted service members by charging them more for auto insurance than it charges officer policyholders. To our knowledge, this is the first case using the laws protecting veterans from this kind of discrimination.
“As shown by its pricing of automobile insurance policies and its deceptive business practices, USAA respects and honors current and former military officers more than it does current and former enlisted personnel,” the complaint stated.
In June of this year, the plaintiffs scored a victory when the court denied USAA’s motion to dismiss. The court emphasized that the plaintiffs are not challenging the validity of USAA’s rates or the Department of Insurance’s (DOI) rulemaking authority, but rather that the plaintiffs allege that USAA’s conduct results in class members being offered policies with higher DOI-approved rates than those offered to officer policyholders. The court also agreed with the plaintiffs that USAA’s conduct falls within the scope of a California law prohibiting discrimination based on military status and that the plaintiffs’ allegations of intentional discrimination against enlisted policyholders on the basis of their military status are sufficiently plausible.
Read more about the lawsuit.
Mehri & Skalet is proud to represent Dr. Michael Salvana in a whistleblower lawsuit against the New York State Department of Corrections & Community Supervision (DOCCS). Dr. Salvana was forced to resign after being subjected to discrimination and retaliation due to his opposition to DOCCS’ Medications With Abuse Potential (MWAP) policy, which denied patients almost all types of pain medication.
Richard E. Condit, a partner at Mehri & Skalet, said, “Dr. Salvana was harassed, threatened, and otherwise treated with hostility because he challenged the inhumane and negligent treatment of patients incarcerated by the state. He was singled out because he spoke out and it cost Dr. Salvana his career.”
Mr. Condit and the M&S team are working closely with our co-counsel from Cooper Erving & Savage LLP, including partner Carlo A.C. de Oliveira, an M&S alumnus.
The initial filing of the lawsuit was covered by The Associated Press, and the story of Dr. Salvana and the inmates who suffered under the inhumane medical policy was told in-depth in The Daily Beast.
Taxpayers Against Fraud (TAF) recently released a new “Fraud in America” podcast featuring M&S partner Cleveland Lawrence III and Assistant U.S. Attorney Dan Fruchter discussing the Hanford site nuclear cleanup whistleblower case. M&S and co-counsel Smith & Lowney represented four whistleblowers whose actions resulted in the government uncovering a ten-year period of overcharging for labor costs and related wrongdoing by construction giants Bechtel and AECOM.
The whistleblowers’ efforts resulted in a $57.75 million settlement between the government and the contractors, which is one of the largest involving a DOE facility. They received $13.75 million, nearly 24% of the government’s recovery, as their reward which is authorized under the federal False Claims Act (FCA). The share the whistleblowers received is one of the highest ever received in a case where the government has chosen to intervene. Each of the whistleblowers also settled their individual whistleblower retaliation claims.