News and Updates
Rob Pohls Selected as a Northern California Super Lawyer for 2014
On July 3, 2014, Thomson Reuters announced that it has selected Rob Pohls as a Northern California Super Lawyer for 2014. Use this link to view Rob's profile on the Super Lawyers website.
Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The selection process is multi-phased and includes independent research, peer nominations and peer evaluations. More information about the selection process can be found here.
Rob previously was named one of Northern California's "Top-Rated" Lawyers for health care law. He also has been recognized as a San Francisco Area "Top-Rated" Lawyer, both for insurance law and for labor & employment. In 2008, ALM's annual survey of law departments of the Fortune 500 also identified Pohls & Associates as a "Go-To Firm" for litigation.
California Appellate Court Affirms Judgment on Demurrer in VUL/Sales Practices Case
In June 2014, Rob Pohls obtained a favorable ruling from California’s Fourth District Court of Appeal when it affirmed a judgment the Orange County Superior Court had entered after sustaining his demurrer to a complaint involving the sale of a variable universal life insurance policy.
The plaintiff and his wife bought the policy in 2002 to insure both of their lives. According to his allegations, the plaintiff believed the policy provided for two death benefits: one payable upon the death of the plaintiff’s wife, and another payable upon the plaintiff’s death. When his wife died, though, the plaintiff learned that the policy had a “first-to-die” provision which called for a death benefit to be paid upon the first death of an insured and which further specified that the policy would thereafter terminate. Pursuant to that provision, the insurer paid the plaintiff a death benefit that was nearly twice the amount he had invested in it by making premium payments. The plaintiff nevertheless sued the insurer, the broker-dealer and the agent for breach of fiduciary duty, negligent misrepresentation and professional negligence, claiming (among other things) that the policy he and his wife had purchased was unsuitable.
Because the complaint was filed ten years after the policy was issued, the trial court had concluded that each of the plaintiff’s claims was time-barred. On appeal, the plaintiff first argued that his claims were timely because they did not accrue until he suffered appreciable harm and that he had suffered no appreciable harm until his wife’s death. In response, the appellate court acknowledged that the “plaintiff could not have known exactly how much was lost as a result of purchasing the policy” because “that calculation would depend on any number of factors, including the length of the [insureds’] lives and the actual performance of any investment funds.” However, it also explained that the plaintiff’s argument “confuses the distinction between the fact and knowledge of damage and the amount of damage.” The appellate court then held that, because the plaintiff and his wife had made a substantial initial premium payment that was funded by their surrender of existing policies, any financial harm “necessarily started to accrue at the inception of the Policy.”
The appellate court also rejected the plaintiff’s argument that his claims were made timely by the delayed discovery rule. As the court explained, the delayed discovery rule “only delays accrual until the plaintiff has, or should have, inquiry notice of the cause of action.” Because California law requires that an insured be bound by clear and conspicuous policy provisions “even if evidence suggests that the insured did not read or understand them,” the appellate court found that the plaintiff was on notice of the policy’s terms when it was delivered (in 2003). Because the plaintiff’s allegations also revealed that he had received annual statements about the policy which both identified the policy as a first-to-die product and quantified the value that had been invested in it, the appellate court further concluded there was “no way” for plaintiff to plead that reasonable diligence would not have revealed the alleged wrongdoing to him sooner.
The plaintiff further argued that the defendants should be equitably estopped from asserting the statute of limitations as a defense. However, the appellate court explained that a “careful inspection” of the plaintiff’s allegations revealed that each of the agent’s alleged representations at the point of sale was accurate. It also noted that the plaintiff did not allege the agent to have later replied inaccurately to any inquiry about the policy’s terms. The appellate court therefore concluded that the operative pleading alleged no misrepresentation that could estop the defendants from asserting the statute of limitations.
Reasoning that “[s]omething more than an omission is required to give rise to recovery on a negligent misrepresentation theory,” the appellate court separately cited the lack of actionable misrepresentation as an alternative basis for affirming the trial court’s judgment. For that reason, it described the case as one “in which plaintiff formed inaccurate and unrealistic expectations about the contents of the Policy, then apparently failed to read to the Policy to see whether these conjectures had any basis.”
For more information about the case, contact Rob Pohls. To view the unpublished opinion, use this link:
Rob Pohls to Speak at ACI's Annual Conference on Life Insurance and AD&D Claims and Litigation
The American Conference Institute has invited Rob Pohls to speak at its 2nd Annual Conference on Life Insurance and AD&D Claims and Litigation. The conference will be held at The Carlton Hotel in New York City on July 29-30, 2013.
Rob will be taking part in two programs. The first relates to Rescission and Post-Claim Underwriting. The second is a Master Class entitled "Litigating a Life Insurance, Accidental Death and Annuity Case from Start to Finish."
Pohls & Associates Moves Southern California Office to Downtown Los Angeles
Pohls & Associates was founded in 1999. Although it is based in Northern California, the firm always has had a statewide practice. In 2009, the firm therefore opened a Southern California in the Los Angeles community of Westwood. To better serve its clients in Southern California, though, the firm is relocating its Southern California office to downtown Los Angeles.
Effective June 1, 2013, the new address for the Southern California office of Pohls & Associates will be: 445 S. Figueroa Street, 27th Floor,
Los Angeles, California 90071. The new telephone number will be: 213.426.2167.
Rob Pohls to Speak at CAHU-Sacramento's Professional Development Day
The Sacramento Chapter of the California Association of Health Underwriters (CAHU) will be conducting its annual Professional Development Day in Citrus Heights, California on May 22, 2013. The group has asked Rob Pohls to join Don Cooper of Triflex Corporation in a presentation entitled "Is Fee-Based Planning in Your Future?" Rob and Don had previously presented a similar program as part of CAHU's 2012 Health Care Summit.
Rob Pohls Gives Health Insurance Law Update at DRI's ERISA/LIfe, Health & Disability Conference
More than 500 attorneys assembled in Boston for DRI's annual ERISA/Life, Health & Disability Conference, held at the Westin Copley Place on April 24-26, 2013. Rob Pohls was honored to contribute to the program by delivering a Health Insurance Law Update which reviewed the current state of the Affordable Care Act, identified the practical and legal impact of its many provisions, and addressed recent cases and developments that affect health insurers, health care providers and legal counsel.
A copy of Rob's paper, entitled "A Brave New World: Health Insurance Regulation and Litigation After NFIB v. Sebelius" is available by using this link: click for paper. A copy of the PowerPoint that Rob used during his presentation is available by using this link: click for PowerPoint.
Rob Pohls Speaks on Complex Life Claims and Long Term Care Insurance at ICA Annual Conference
On October 2, 2012, Rob Pohls took part in two presentations at the ICA's annual education conference. The first program was entitled "Beyond the Nursing Home" and featured an informal discussion about how the long term care insurance industry has evolved and the direction(s) in which it is headed. The second program was entitled "Complex Claim Investigations" and involved a variety of perspectives on challenging facts culled from real-world examples of complex life insurance claims.
For a copy of the PowerPoint used during Rob's presentation on long term care insurance, use this link: click for PowerPoint. For a copy of the PowerPoint used during his presentation on complex life claim investigations, use this link: click for PowerPoint.
Broker World and California Broker Both Publish Rob Pohls' Article on PPACA for Agents
In September of 2012, California Broker Magazine published an article Rob Pohls wrote to identify and explain "Four Things Agents Need to Know About the Affordable Care Act." The article addresses coming changes in the health insurance market that are mandated by the Affordable Care Act and assesses how those changes might impact health insurance agents, brokers and producers. In October of 2012, it was re-published for a national audience in Broker World Magazine. For a copy of the article, as published by California Broker Magazine, use this link: click for article.
ICA Roundtable Features Rob Pohls' Update on Health Care Reform
On September 19, 2012, Rob Pohls delivered a one-hour update on the practical impact of the Affordable Care Act as part of the International Claim Association's quarterly series of roundtable discussions. For more information about the roundtable discussion, contact Rob Pohls. For more information about the International Claim Association, use this link to visit the organization's website: click for website.
Rob Pohls Takes Part in ACI's Inaugural Conference on Litigating Life Insurance and Annuity Claims
On July 31, 2012, Rob Pohls took part in the American Conference Institute's 1st Annual Conference on Life Insurance and Annuity Litigation at the Flatotel in New York City. The catchy title given to Rob's program was: "Making Sense of the Interplay Between Securities Law/Broker-Dealer Rules and Insurance Statutory Requirements in Connection with the Sale of Variable Life and Annuity Products." For a copy of the PowerPoint that Rob used during his presentation, use this link: click for PowerPoint.