Update: trial lawyers’ war against Allstate

by Walter Olson on April 25, 2004

Plaintiff’s lawyers have for years pursued a grudge match against the Allstate insurance company because of its “Do You Need An Attorney?” campaign, launched in the mid-1990s, by which the company suggests to persons with possible claims against its policyholders that it may not be absolutely necessary for them to sign up with a lawyer (see Apr. 18, 2000; Dec. 22, 1999). In the state of Connecticut, scene of some of the fiercest skirmishing, the attorneys’ fondest hopes have not been realized: in January a federal judge ruled in Allstate’s favor “on claims it breached an implied contract of good faith and fair dealing, and was engaging in unfair trade practice, unfair insurance practice, recklessness and fraud.” However, it’s not as if the insurer, which is based in Northbrook, Ill., is now free to say whatever it pleases in post-car-crash situations in the Nutmeg State: “In 1996, as president of the Connecticut Trial Lawyers Association, Reardon [New London plaintiffs' attorney Robert I. Reardon] successfully lobbied for a new law that forbids insurers from discouraging their adversaries from hiring a lawyer.” (Thomas B. Scheffey, “Allstate Victorious in Anti-Lawyer Campaign”, Connecticut Law Tribune, Feb. 2).