Belle Meade Owners Association, Inc. v. The Cincinnati Insurance Company, et al.
Belle Meade Labor Depreciation Settlement
Case No. 3:22-cv-00123

Frequently Asked Questions

 

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  • If you received a notice, it is because Cincinnati Insurance records reflect that you submitted a claim to Cincinnati Insurance for a covered loss to a dwelling or other structure in Arizona, California, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, or Wisconsin during the applicable Class Periods under a property insurance policy.

    A Court authorized the notice because you have a right to know about a proposed settlement that has been reached in a lawsuit covering these claims. As part of the proposed settlement, the Court has allowed, or “certified,” the case to proceed as a class action that may affect your rights. You should know that you have the right to submit a Claim Form for payment as part of the settlement and about your options regarding this settlement before the Court decides whether to give “Final Approval” to the settlement.  If the Court approves the parties’ Settlement Agreement, and if any appeals are resolved in favor of the settlement, then payments will be made to those who qualify and timely submit a valid Claim Form. The notice explains the lawsuit, the settlement, your legal rights, what benefits are available, who may be eligible for them, and how to get them. A Claim Form is included with the notice. You can also obtain a Claim Form online here.

    The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee is overseeing this class action.  The case is called Belle Meade Owners Association, Inc. v. The Cincinnati Insurance Company, Case No. 22-cv-00123. The company that filed the lawsuit is called the “Plaintiff,” and the companies they sued are called the “Defendants” or “Cincinnati Insurance.”

  • The settlement includes The Cincinnati Insurance Company, The Cincinnati Casualty Company, The Cincinnati Indemnity Company, Cincinnati Global Underwriting Ltd., and Cincinnati Specialty Underwriters Insurance Company (together “Cincinnati Insurance”).

  • The lawsuit claims that Cincinnati Insurance improperly deducted depreciation on costs of labor and general contractor overhead and profit when calculating actual cash value payments for residential and commercial structural loss insurance claims in Arizona, California, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, or Wisconsin.  Cincinnati Insurance has denied all allegations that it acted wrongfully or unlawfully.

  • In a class action, one or more persons or organizations called a “Class Representative” (in this case, Belle Meade Owners Association, Inc.) sue on behalf of others with similar claims.  All those included are a “Class” or “Class Members.”  One court resolves the issues for all Class Members, except for those who exclude themselves from the Class.

  • The Court did not decide in favor of the Plaintiff or Cincinnati Insurance and has not found that Cincinnati Insurance did anything wrong. Instead, both sides agreed to settle. That way, the parties avoid the cost of litigation, a trial and, potentially, an appeal, and those who qualify will get compensation. The Class Representative and its attorneys think the settlement is best for all Class Members.  The settlement does not mean that Cincinnati Insurance did anything wrong, no trial has occurred, and no merits determinations have been made.

  • To see if you are bound by or potentially eligible for benefits from this Settlement, you first have to determine if you are a Class Member.

  • If you received a notice, then you have been identified as someone who may be a Class Member.

    If you are uncertain about whether you are a Class Member after reviewing the information below, you may complete a Claim Form and your status as a potential Class Member will be determined for you.

    The Class includes: (a) all policyholders under any residential or commercial property insurance policy issued by Defendants, except for those excluded (see below); (b) who had a Structural Loss that was a Covered Loss for property in Arizona, California, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, or Wisconsin during the applicable Class Periods; and (c) that resulted in an actual cash value payment from which Nonmaterial Depreciation was withheld, or that would have resulted in an actual cash value payment but for the withholding of Nonmaterial Depreciation causing the loss to drop below the applicable deductible. 

    Structural Loss means physical damage to a dwelling, commercial building, or other structure in Arizona, California, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, or Wisconsin while covered by a property insurance policy issued by Defendants.

    Covered Loss means a first party insurance claim for Structural Loss that (a) occurred during the Class Periods, and (b) Defendants or a court of competent jurisdiction determined to be covered under a property insurance policy issued by Defendants, and (c) resulted in an actual cash value payment by Defendants, or would have resulted in an actual cash value payment but for the deduction of Nonmaterial Depreciation. 

    Nonmaterial Depreciation means depreciation of labor costs or general contractor overhead and profit, but not depreciation of materials, sales tax, or other items, and that is subtracted from the estimated cost to repair or replace a Structural Loss when calculating an actual cash value payment. 

    Class Periods mean the following time periods:

    • For policyholders of all Defendants with Structural Loss claims in Arizona, California, Illinois, Kentucky, Ohio, Vermont, Virginia, Tennessee, Texas, or Washington, dates of loss on or after April 8, 2020, and on or before May 31, 2022;
    • For policyholders of all Defendants with Structural Loss claims in Wisconsin, dates of loss on or after April 8, 2021, and on or before May 31, 2022;
    • For policyholders of all Defendants except Cincinnati Global Underwriting Ltd. with Structural Loss claims in Missouri, dates of loss on or after April 8, 2012 and on or before May 31, 2022;
    • For policyholders of Cincinnati Global Underwriting Ltd. with Structural Loss claims in Missouri, dates of loss on or after April 8, 2020, and on or before May 31, 2022.
  • Excluded from the Class are: (a) policyholders  whose claims arose under policy forms, endorsements,  or riders expressly permitting Nonmaterial  Depreciation  within the text of the policy  form,  endorsement  or  rider,  i.e.,  by  express  use  of  the  words  “depreciation”   and “labor”;   (b) policyholders who only made a roof damage claim that arose under a roof surface payment endorsement or similar policy provision, which were paid based on a schedule and not by deducting depreciation; (c) policyholders who received one or more ACV Payments that exhausted the applicable limits of insurance; (d) policyholders whose claims were denied or abandoned without actual cash value payments; (e) Defendants and their officers and directors; (f) members of the judiciary and their staff to whom the class action is assigned, and their immediate families; and (g) Class Counsel and their immediate families (collectively, “Exclusions”).

  • If you are not sure whether you are included in the Class, you may timely submit a Claim Form to determine if you are eligible to receive payment. There is no penalty for submitting a Claim Form, and submitting a Claim Form is the only way to have your claim reviewed, and if eligible, receive money from this Settlement.

    If you have further questions, you may call the following toll-free number 1-888-995-0297 or email us at info@BelleMeadeLaborDepreciationSettlement.com.  

    Please do not call Cincinnati Insurance or your Cincinnati Insurance agent to discuss this lawsuit. You may, however, continue to call Cincinnati Insurance or your Cincinnati Insurance agent regarding any other insurance matters.

  • Under the settlement, Cincinnati Insurance has agreed to pay Class Members who timely submit valid and completed claim forms as follows:

    (a) Class Members with Structural Losses in Arizona, California, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, or Washington will receive 100% of the estimated Nonmaterial Depreciation that was withheld from actual cash value payments on the Class Member’s Covered Loss and not subsequently paid;

    (b) Class Members with Structural Losses in Virginia and Wisconsin will receive 80% of the estimated Nonmaterial Depreciation that was withheld from actual cash value payments on the Class Member’s Covered Loss and not subsequently paid;

    (c) Class Members identified under subsections (a) and (b) will also be paid simple interest at the rate of 5% per annum on the unrecovered Nonmaterial Depreciation from the date of the first actual cash value payment to the date of the Final Approval Hearing;

    (d) Class Members to whom all Nonmaterial Depreciation deducted from actual cash value payments was previously repaid in full will receive a fixed payment ranging from $25 to $500, depending on the amount of Nonmaterial Depreciation originally withheld.

    The amount of these payments will vary based on the size of the claim and the amount of depreciation initially withheld. These payments, exclusive of interest payments, are subject to the terms, policy limits, conditions, coverage limits, and deductibles of policies.

    You must submit a Claim Form in order to determine whether you are eligible for a settlement payment and, if so, the amount of your settlement payment.  If you had more than one Covered Loss during the Class Periods, you will need to submit a separate Claim Form for each loss.  If you do not TIMELY submit your Claim Form, you will not receive a settlement payment.  For additional details on the payment terms, please see the Settlement Agreement, which is available at the Important Documents page of this website, or call the following toll-free number 1-888-995-0297.
     

  • To find out whether you are eligible for a payment, you must complete and sign a Claim Form truthfully, accurately, and completely, to the best of your ability.  You must then submit the claim form by either:

    Mail the completed Claim Form to the following address, postmarked no later than July 12, 2024:


    Belle Meade Labor Depreciation Settlement
    c/o JND Legal Administration
    PO Box 91490
    Seattle, WA 98111


    or

    Upload the completed Claim Form on the File a Claim page of this website before midnight, Eastern Daylight Time on July 12, 2024

    A copy of the Claim Form was mailed with your notice. You may obtain an additional blank Claim Form by downloading one on the Important Documents page of this website. If you sign a Claim Form as the representative of a deceased or incapacitated Class Member, you must also submit written proof that you are the Legally Authorized Representative. If you are a contractor to whom an insurance claim was properly assigned by a policyholder, you must submit written proof of the assignment with the Claim Form.
     

  • The Court granted “Final Approval” of the settlement. The payment will be mailed to eligible Class Members after the claims administration process is completed and any appeals are resolved in favor of the settlement. If you submit a claim form but do not qualify for a payment, you will be notified of that determination. This process can take time, so please be patient.

  • Unless you excluded yourself, you are staying in the Class, and that means you can’t sue Cincinnati Insurance and the Released Persons over the claims settled in this case.  It also means that all of the Court’s orders will apply to you and legally bind you.

    If you submit a Claim Form, or if you do nothing and stay in the Class, you agree to release all Released Claims against all Released Persons. “Released Claims” and “Released Persons” are defined in the Settlement Agreement, which you can view on the Important Documents page of this website. Here is the definition of Released Claims in the Settlement Agreement:

    “Released Claims” means any and all claims, Unknown Claims, actions, causes of action, allegations, suits, debts, sums of money, payments, obligations, reckonings, promises, damages, interest, penalties, attorney’s fees and costs, liens, judgments, and demands of any kind whatsoever that each Releasing Person has or may have had prior to the Effective Date and arising from a loss during the Class Periods, whether ex contractu or ex delicto, debts, liens, contracts, liabilities, agreements, attorneys’ fees, costs, penalties, interest, expenses, or losses (including actual, consequential, statutory, extra-contractual and punitive or exemplary damages), and whether arising under or based on contract, extra-contractual or tort theories, at law or in equity, or under federal, state, or local law, statute, ordinance, rule or regulation, whether asserted individually or in a representative capacity, whether past or present, mature or not yet mature, known or unknown, that Plaintiff or any Class Members have or may have had against Defendants or any other Released Persons that relate to, concern, arise from, or pertain in any way to:

    (a) Nonmaterial  Depreciation,  including,  but  not  limited  to,  calculation,  deduction, determination, inclusion, modification, omission, or withholding of Nonmaterial Depreciation, in the adjustment or payment of any Covered Loss;
    (b) any and all claims that were or could have been brought pertaining to the calculation, deduction,  determination,  inclusion,  modification,  omission, or withholding  of Nonmaterial Depreciation in the adjustment or payment of any Covered Loss;
    (c) the allegations and claims contained in the complaint and amended complaint in the Action concerning the alleged systematic practice of deducting Nonmaterial Depreciation through the use of estimating software; or
    (d) any alleged conspiracy in connection with the matters described in subsections (a) – (c).

    Released Claims do not include: (a) any claims that are not a Structural Loss; (b) claims for replacement cost benefits for a Covered Loss that are made after the date of Final Judgment and determined pursuant to the terms and conditions of policies of insurance; (c) claims arising after the Effective Date or outside the Class Periods; (d) claims for valuation or payment of a Covered Loss that are not related to the withholding of Nonmaterial Depreciation from an ACV Payment; (e) Class Members’ rights and obligations under this Agreement; and (f) claims of potential Class Members who timely and properly submit a request for exclusion from the Settlement Class in accordance with this Agreement.

  • If you did not want to participate in this settlement, but you wanted to keep the right to individually sue Cincinnati Insurance about the issues in this case, then you must have taken steps to get out of the settlement.  This is called excluding yourself from—or “opting out” of—the Class.

  • The deadline to exclude yourself from the Settlement was April 13, 2024, and has passed.

  • No. Unless you excluded yourself, you gave up any right to sue Cincinnati Insurance for the claims that this settlement resolves. You must have excluded yourself from the Class to sue Cincinnati Insurance over the claims resolved by this settlement. Remember, the exclusion deadline passed on April 13, 2024.

  • No. If you excluded yourself from the settlement, you will not be eligible for a payment, and you should not submit a Claim Form to ask for a payment as it will be rejected.

  • The Court appointed the following lawyers to represent you and other Class Members as Class Counsel: 


    Erik D. Peterson
    Erik Peterson Law Offices, PSC
    110 West Vine Street
    Suite 300
    Lexington, KY 40507
    800-614-1957
    erik@eplo.law


    T. Joseph Snodgrass
    Snodgrass Law LLC
    100 South Fifth Street
    Suite 800
    Minneapolis, MN 55402
    612-448-2600
    jsnodgrass@snodgrass-law.com


    J. Brandon McWherter
    McWherter Scott Bobbitt PLC
    341 Cool Springs Blvd.
    Suite 230
    Franklin, TN 37067
    615-354-1144
    brandon@msb.law


    The Court determined that these attorneys are qualified to represent the interests of the Class in this lawsuit. More information about their firms, their practices, and their experience is available on the firms’ websites.

    You do not have to pay Class Counsel.  If you want to be represented by your own lawyer, and potentially have that lawyer appear in court for you in this case, you may hire one at your own expense.

  • If you choose to remain in this lawsuit, you will not be required to pay attorneys’ fees or litigation expenses to Class Counsel out of your own pocket. As part of the settlement, Class Counsel asked the Court for up to $1,200,000 for attorneys’ fees, costs and expenses, and will ask the Court to award the Class Representative $7,500 for its efforts in representing the settlement class (called a service award). Cincinnati Insurance agreed not to oppose or object to these requests up to those amounts.  

    On May 13, 2024, Class Counsel's motion for attorneys' fees, costs, and expenses and a service award was granted by the court.  Cincinnati Insurance will separately pay these fees, expenses, and service award that the Court orders. These payments will not reduce the amount distributed to Class Members. Cincinnati Insurance will also separately pay the costs to administer the settlement.

  • If you do not exclude yourself from the Settlement, you can tell the Court if you don’t agree with the settlement or some part of it.

  • The deadline to object to the Settlement was April 13, 2024, and has passed.

  • Objecting is simply telling the Court that you don’t like something about the settlement. You can object only if you stay in the Class. Excluding yourself is telling the Court that you don’t want to be part of the Class or the settlement. If you exclude yourself, you have no basis to object because the case no longer affects you. If you object, and the Court approves the settlement anyway, you will still be legally bound by the result.

  • The Court will hold a hearing to decide whether to approve the settlement.  You may attend and you may ask to speak, but you don’t have to.

  • The Court held a Final Approval Hearing at 9:00 a.m. EDT, on May 13, 2024, at the United States Courthouse, Courtroom 400, 220 West Depot Street, Greeneville, Tennessee. At this hearing, the Court considered whether the settlement was fair, reasonable, and adequate. If there were any objections, the Court considered them at that time. After the hearing, the Court decided to approve the settlement.

     

  • No. Class Counsel answered any questions that the Court may have had. If you wished to attend the hearing, or wished to present your objections to the Settlement, you had to have come at your own expense. You could have also paid your own lawyer to attend, but it was not necessary, unless you chose to have a lawyer appear on your behalf to object to the settlement.

  • If you submitted a proper written objection to the settlement, you or your lawyer acting on your behalf could have spoken at the Final Approval Hearing. You could not speak at the Hearing if you excluded yourself from the settlement.

  • If you do nothing, you’ll get no payment from this settlement. But, unless you excluded yourself from the settlement, you won’t be able to individually sue Cincinnati Insurance for the claims in this case. 

  • The notice summarizes the proposed settlement. More details are in the Settlement Agreement. if you want to view a copy of the Settlement Agreement or the Class Notice, which provide more information, please visit the Important Documents page of this website. If you have questions, call 1-888-995-0297 or email us at info@BelleMeadeLaborDepreciationSettlement.com. 

PLEASE DO NOT CALL OR WRITE THE COURT, THE JUDGE OR HIS STAFF, CINCINNATI INSURANCE, YOUR INSURANCE AGENT, OR DEFENDANTS’ COUNSEL FOR INFORMATION OR ADVICE ABOUT THE SETTLEMENT.

For More Information

Visit this website often to get the most up-to-date information.

Mail
Belle Meade Labor Depreciation Settlement
c/o JND Legal Administration
P.O. Box 91490
Seattle, WA, 98111