Fidelity & Guaranty Life Insurance Co. v. Pina – Case Brief Summary (Texas)

In Fidelity & Guaranty Life Insurance Co. v. Pina, 165 S.W.3d 416 (Tex. App.--Corpus Christi 2005, no pet.), the Court reviewed an order certifying a consumer fraud class.

There, the consumers purchased annuities that paid a high interest rate on deposits into the annuities. Id.

The consumers alleged that the defendant failed to disclose that a lower interest rate would apply to payments the consumers made into the annuities after the first year of ownership. Id. at 419.

Addressing the reliance element of the consumers' DTPA and fraud claims, we noted the difficulty of establishing reliance in a group setting:

"Reliance is a thought process or one step in a larger thought process; . . . it can be shown only by demonstrating the person's thought processes in reaching the decision. Proof of reliance or lack of reliance necessarily requires an individualized determination because, under all the same facts and circumstances, one person may have relied on the misrepresentation in reaching a decision while another did not rely on it in reaching the same decision." Id. at 423

The Court held that the consumers had not put on class-wide evidence of reliance. Id. at 424. Although each of the named plaintiffs testified that they relied on the high interest rate applicable in the first year of their contracts, none of the named plaintiffs indicated "how or whether other members of the class may have weighed the importance of the new money interest rate in making their investment decision." Id.

Accordingly, the plaintiffs did not produce any evidence of class-wide reliance. Id.