A putative class action accusing California-based CIBA Insurance of operating a “Ponzi scheme” in concert with other licensed insurance carriers has been voluntarily dismissed without prejudice in federal court in San Franciso nearly four months after it was filed.
The lawsuit filed in April accused the Commercial Industrial Building Owners Alliance Inc.—which operates as CIBA in 48 states—of collecting tens of millions of dollars in premiums even as it evades insurance laws in California and other states.
The complaint also named Germany-based Great Lakes Insurance SE as a co-defendant.
The suit was filed by a group of attorneys from California, Florida and Arizona, and said CIBA and its business partners issued coverage for more than $50 billion in property, but only had $1 billion available in coverage per occurrence for the entire pool of insureds.
The plaintiff and would-be class representative was Sage Apts LLC, a Wyoming apartment complex.
CIBA’s attorney, Michael Kennick of Fullerton, California’s Kennick & Associates, said when it was filed that the complaint was baseless and part of a pattern of spurious lawsuits being filed against the company.
A hearing on CIBA’s motion to dismiss was slated for Aug. 9.
In a statement released Wednesday, Kennick said the defendants “have maintained that the lawsuit was without merit and filed motions to dismiss asserting there was no factual or legal basis supporting the lawsuit, that CIBA’s insurers retain ultimate responsibility for paying claims, and that the plaintiffs had suffered no loss of money or property and therefore had no standing to pursue their claims.”
The complaint was filed in California’s Northern District by a group of lawyers including William Levin, Laurel Simes and Rachel Abrams of San Francisco’s Levin Simes; William Merlin and Michael Poli of Los Angeles’ Merlin Law Group; Adam Moskowitz, Howard Bushman and Adam Schwartzbaum of Coral Gables, Florida’s Moskowitz Law Firm; and Andrew Friedman of Phoenix, Arizona’s Bonnett, Fairbourn, Friedman & Balint.
In an email, Moskowitz said he and his co-counsel “have been contacted by many different people and consumers and are carefully reviewing all of the options and possibilities for our clients.”