Breaking News: California Attorney General Challenges One-Year Deadline for Unfair Competition Claims Against State Farm

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By Samuel A. Lopez, USA Herald

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[CALIFORNIA] – California Attorney General Rob Bonta has thrown his weight behind a San Francisco homeowner’s lawsuit against State Farm, arguing that policyholders can pursue claims under the state’s unfair competition law (UCL) independent of a one-year claim filing deadline mandated in their insurance policy.

California Attorney General Rob Bonta

In an amicus brief filed with the California Supreme Court, Attorney General Bonta contends that the UCL’s four-year statute of limitations should apply to Katherine Rosenberg-Wohl’s lawsuit against State Farm Fire and Casualty Co., not the one-year window stipulated in her homeowner’s policy and the California Insurance Code.

Unfair Competition Law vs. Policy Deadline

According to the filing, the dispute stems from a claim Ms. Rosenberg-Wohl filed in August 2019 for repairs to her home’s exterior staircase after an elderly neighbor stumbled and fell on the steps twice. State Farm denied the claim and reiterated that denial after Ms. Rosenberg-Wohl’s husband contacted the insurer to inquire about possible reconsideration.

Ms. Rosenberg-Wohl subsequently filed two lawsuits against State Farm. The first asserted breach of contract and bad faith claims, which were dismissed in federal court due to missing the policy’s one-year deadline. The second lawsuit focused on alleged violations of the UCL. However, the trial court and a divided appeals court also dismissed this lawsuit based on the same one-year deadline.

Attorney General Bonta’s Argument

In his amicus brief, Attorney General Bonta argues that the UCL statute of limitations, not the policy deadline, should govern Ms. Rosenberg-Wohl’s UCL claim. He emphasizes that a UCL lawsuit centers on an insurer’s business practices, not the specifics of a denied claim.

“There is nothing improper about a plaintiff choosing a cause of action with a longer limitations period to hedge against potential time-barring of related claims,” Bonta argues in the brief. “This is a routine practice across various legal contexts.”

The Importance of This Case

The California Supreme Court’s decision in this case will have significant implications for policyholders across the state. If the court sides with Attorney General Bonta, it would empower policyholders to pursue UCL claims against insurers regardless of one-year deadlines in their policies.

Samuel A. Lopez, a Legal Analyst with over 20 years of experience in the legal industry, believes this case highlights a crucial point for policyholders.

“Grasping the intricacies of policy limitations is crucial,” says Lopez. “This case underscores the complexities of insurance disputes and the determination of policyholders to hold their insurers accountable.”

Legal Representation in Rosenberg-Wohl v. State Farm Fire and Casualty Co.

  • Katherine Rosenberg-Wohl: Represented by David Rosenberg-Wohl of Hershenson Rosenberg-Wohl APC.
  • State Farm Fire and Casualty Co.: Represented by Lauren Hudecki and Megan O’Neill of DTO Law, alongside Jasjaap S. Sidhu and Jason R. Litt of Horvitz & Levy LLP.
  • California Attorney General’s Office: Led by Attorney General Rob Bonta, with support from Solicitor General Michael J. Mongan, Senior Assistant Attorney General Nicklas A. Akers, Deputy Solicitors General Christopher D. Hu and Samuel T. Harbourt, Supervising Deputy Attorney General Michele Van Gelderen, and Deputy Attorney General Adelina Acuña.

Stay Informed

The USA Herald will continue to provide updates on this case as it progresses through the California Supreme Court. For more information on insurance policy disputes, legal rights, and navigating claims processes, visit the USA Herald website at https://usaherald.com/about/ or follow Samuel A. Lopez on the author bio page https://usaherald.com/author/samuel-lopez/.