MetLife Inc. will be out $23 million because one of its former top salesmen allegedly violated federal law by blasting junk faxes to as many as 2.8 million recipients in an effort to drum up more business.
That is the amount the life insurer has agreed to pay to settle Illinois and Florida class actions accusing it of violating the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, a measure that outlaws the sending of faxes lacking prominently placed instructions for opting-out of such communications.
MetLife and Scott Storick, its former salesman, deny wrongdoing. The insurer, which said it fired Storick when it learned about the 2010 to 2012 fax onslaught, said it agreed to resolve the suits—C-Mart Inc. v. Metropolitan Life in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, and Fauley v. MetLife in Illinois’s Circuit Court for the 19th Judicial District—to avoid the risks and uncertainties of trial.
The Aug. 7 settlements could mean between $50 and $3,500 for businesses and homes that received the faxes, which read: “LOW COST LIFE-INSURANCE RATES!” About $7.7 million of the settlement pot is earmarked for plaintiffs’ attorneys.
According to court documents, Storick paid a fax-blasting firm to spew thousands of the messages a day nationwide. His goal was to generate leads and maintain his standing as one of MetLife’s leading salesmen, as well as his membership in the selective Million Dollar Round Table, comprising top life insurance and financial services professionals from 74 countries, the documents show.
Plaintiffs’ counsel are Brian Wanca, David Oppenheim, Ryan Kelly and Ross Good of Anderson + Wanca.
MetLife is represented by Francis Zacherl, Jeffrey Landau and Daniel Stabile of Shutts & Bowen; Becca Wahlquist of Manatt Phelps & Phillips; and Ann Buckley of Buckley And Buckley.
Lisa Hoffman is a contributor to law.com.