NASFA Lawsuit Decision
The NASFA Lawsuit Decision... What's the Truth?
Just a few days before Christmas, Judge Braman rendered his decision on the NASFA vs State Farm lawsuit, a 'declaratory judgment action'. His decision was 76 pages long. Generally speaking, a declaratory judgment action asks the court to determine the rights of the parties in light of the contract wording
Shortly thereafter NASFA sent out a NASFAX to our member agents advising them of the decision on the six issues remaining in the lawsuit. Later we sent out a NASFLASH advising the State Farm agency force at large of the decision.
Then we learned from our active agent members that Mike Davidson, State Farm Vice Chairman and Chief Agency and Marketing Officer, had sent an email to the entire State Farm agency force on December 21, 2005. It is this writer's opinion that the 'corporate spin' put on the decision of Judge Braman on several of the issues in that email could well leave you with your head spinning.
Therefore, it is our best judgment, that in your best interest as a State Farm agent, we recommend that you log on to the State Farm website. You're going to have to do it on your personal computer because we have just been advised that State Farm has blocked your ability to log on through the State Farm computer in your office. They get a capital "T" for timing on this one.
If you have the time, please read all, If not, at least the first 41 pages which deals wholly with the Partner Agent Program (PAP).
If you don't have enough time to read that much, may we suggest that you hit the following more poignant statements by Judge Braman:
Page 6, Paragraph #15, regarding the Partner Agent Program
"At all relevant times State Farm was aware that its agents had no contractual obligation to sell securities."
Page 8, Paragraph #22, regarding State Farm's Grow or Go theme and its perception from the field as an ultimatum
"No contrary evidence was offered as to the 2000 Convention including the grow or go theme, and I find the foregoing account accurate."
Page 9, Paragraph #23 relates to the reasoning behind State Farm going to the Partner Agent Program to improve the financial products sales results
"However, as of June 22, 2001, the marketing of mutuals was disappointing.
Only 27.9% of the 9,419 registered agents sold at least one account."
Page 20, Paragraph #41, with respect to after our lawsuit started, including PAP as an issue, State Farm alleged that the Registered Representative Referral Database (which the Judge dubbed as the "3RD" program) replaced the Partner Agent Program (PAP)
"Further, 3RD never took the place of PAP."
Page 27, Paragraph #50, on the same subject
"In sum, I find that PAP was never ended."
Page 27, Paragraph #50, (Finding 43) on the same subject
"3RD was born, in part, because the felt litigation necessity of dealing with a challenge based upon the imposition of a "partner" on a non-participating agent."
Page 40, Paragraph #69 on good faith and fair dealing
(Read the entire paragraph slowly and completely)
Page 41, Paragraph #70, on the same subject, read the last sentence
"State Farm's conduct meets the elements it has conceded constitute bad faith in view of the agent expectations, and the commercial advantage State Farm extracted."
Now that you've taken this little exercise in legal reading, you may draw your own conclusions on the veracity of Mike Davidson's email of December 21, 2005?
By the way, NASFA voluntarily withdrew the internet issue from the case once we learned from court testimony by a State Farm witness that they had spent 30 million dollars developing the State Farm internet website in order to sell products direct and only sold 8,000 policies since its inception. And further, the fact that internet direct selling by State Farm agents would be happening very soon, made it a competitive 'non-issue'.
Sometimes it just pays to read the facts yourself.