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Susan Snowden to Speak at Auto Insurance Litigation Conference

Martin & Seibert, L.C. Shareholder Susan R. Snowden is scheduled to speak at a conference on Auto Insurance Litigation in January 2006, in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The conference, sponsored by the American Conference Institute, is designed to provide practical strategies for minimizing exposure and resolving coverage disputes.

For more information, go to

Susan Snowden Selected as 2005 Woman of Distinction

Martin & Seibert, L.C. Shareholder Susan R. Snowden has been selected by the Girl Scouts of the Shawnee Council as a 2005 Woman of Distinction.

Susan was chosen along with six others from the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia for the honor. The selection was based on demonstrated leadership qualities and because those honored had distinguished themselves as role models for girls and women in the community.

$1 Billion Verdict Against State Farm Overturned

On August 18, the Illinois Supreme Court reversed a $1 billion judgment against State Farm stemming from a national class action over the use of non-Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) parts. In rendering its decision, the court held that the trial court erred in giving the suit class action status.

The class consisted of State Farm policyholders who contested the insurer's practice of using non-OEM parts to repair policyholders' vehicles in every case where such parts were available. Plaintiffs alleged this was a breach of contract because State Farm failed to restore their vehicle to pre-loss condition claiming non OEM parts were categorically inferior. The class also argued the practice violated Illinois consumer law. The trial court concluded that Illinois law could be applied to all class members nationwide and certified a national class of approximately 4.7 million claimants.

A jury found State Farm had breached its contractual obligations and the trial court entered judgment for $1,186,180,000.00. An intermediate appellate court reduced the verdict by $130 million. On appeal, State Farm argued that individual questions predominated over any purported common questions thus precluding class status. The Illinois Supreme Court agreed in Avery v State Farm Mut. Auto Ins. Co., (No. 91494, Ill, filed August 18 ,2005). The Avery Court held that the trial court erred in concluding that the operative language in State Farm's various policies could be given a uniform interpretation and found there was no evidentiary support for the conclusion that all State Farm policies are uniform.

The Supreme Court also concluded that the trial court also erred in granting national class action status when there existed only one named plaintiff from Illinois, and he was not able to prove that he suffered any damages as a result of the State Farm's actions.

Susan Snowden to Serve on Board of Trustees of Thiel College

Martin & Seibert, L.C. Shareholder Susan Snowden has been appointed to serve on the Board of Trustees of Thiel College in Greenville, Pennsylvania.

Thiel College is an independent institution related to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. It was founded as Thiel Hall in Monaca, Pennsylvania, in 1866 and chartered by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1870. In 1871 the College moved to Greenville.

Susan's term begins in Fall 2005 and continues for three years.

Vito Mussomeli Appointed to West Virginia State Bar Committee

Martin & Seibert, L.C. Real Estate attorney Vito Mussomeli was recently appointed to serve on the West Virginia State Bar's Real Estate, Zoning, and Land Use Committee.

The West Virginia State Bar is the organization of all lawyers licensed to practice law in West Virginia. Its stated mission is to improve the administration of justice and enhance the provision of legal services for West Virginians.

Allison Marquina Elected to Term on United Way Board

Martin & Seibert, L.C. Litigation attorney Allison Marquina was recently elected to serve on the board of directors of the United Way of Berkeley and Morgan Counties.

United Way of Berkeley and Morgan Counties is a voluntary, not for profit organization made up of donors, volunteers and recipient health and human service agencies. These agencies help individuals in need, families in crisis, provide youth and senior programs and enhance the community quality of life.

Martin & Seibert, L.C. Honored with Outstanding Business Award

The Martinsburg, West Virginia Chapter of Rotary International recently honored Martin & Seibert, L.C. with its Outstanding Business Award.

The award was in recognition of the Firm’s role as Presenting Sponsor of a Rotary 100th Anniversary Gala that the club held in April. The goal of the event was to raise $100,000 for the Martinsburg-Berkeley County Parks and Recreation Board. In addition to being the top sponsor, Martin & Seibert, L.C. also helped with promotional printing and other logistical functions.

The world’s first service club, Rotary was formed in Chicago, Illinois, in 1905 by an attorney who wished to recapture in a professional club the same friendly spirit he had felt in the small towns of his youth. The name “Rotary” derived from the early practice of rotating meetings among members’ offices.

Today, Rotary is a worldwide organization of business and professional leaders that provides humanitarian service, encourages high ethical standards in all vocations, and helps build goodwill and peace in the world. Approximately 1.2 million Rotarians belong to more than 31,000 Rotary clubs located in 167 countries.


UPDATE ON THE LAW - Get the latest information on cases affecting the insurance industry in West Virginia.

Topics include Bad Faith, Rates, Regulations, and more.

Written by Martin & Seibert Attorney Kay Fuller, Update on the Law is published quarterly.


BILLS AND CASES - This periodical presents the analysis of news coming out of West Virginia State Government, with special emphasis on employment law issues, workers' compensation, and insurance news.

Bills and Cases is a monthly pulication written by Susan Snowden and Allison Marquina.

Copyright 2010 Martin & Seibert, L.C.