A Plaintiff annuity holder was prohibited from pursuing her federal racketeering claims against an insurance company and its affiliates, as doing so would impair state regulation of insurance business, contrary to the McCarran-Ferguson Act.
The question addressed by the Eighth Circuit Court on appeal of the dismissal of Plaintiff’s RICO claim, was whether the RICO charge would impair state insurance regulation. Applying the standard set forth in Humana Inc. v. Forsyth, 525 U.S. 299 (1999), the Court focused on the precise federal claims asserted. Here, it was Plaintiff’s claim the insurer “misrepresented the true financial conditions of the company in its public reports and marketing materials, artificially inflating its purported assets and surplus.” Ruling on those claims would require the Court to decide whether the purported sham transactions left the insurer in the “healthy financial position it reported” or whether Plaintiff was correct that “a proper accounting would have shown liabilities substantially exceeding” the insurer’s assets.
As questions about an insurer’s solvency are “squarely within the regulatory oversight by state insurance departments” a federal court could not rule in Plaintiff’s favor without holding “that state insurance regulators were wrong” – essentially “double-checking” the regulator’s work. Such a result runs contrary to the McCarran-Ferguson Act.