In Adams v. Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance, No. 98-00020-CV-CDL-4 (July 25, 2007), the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court’s opinion that res judicata barred appellants’ claims, owing to the settlement of an earlier consumer class action against Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance Company (“Southern Farm”).

The appellants sued Southern Farm in Mississippi state court in October 2005, asserting that Southern Farm had employed deceptive and fraudulent practices, when it recommended replacement life insurance policies, such as flexible premium and universal life insurance, without disclosing that the premiums could increase over time.  Southern Farm responded, by filing a Motion to Enforce Final Judgment in the Middle District of Georgia, arguing that the settlement, release, and judgment in an earlier 1999 federal consumer class action, in which the appellants were class members, barred the appellants’ pending state court claims. The district court agreed and enjoined the appellants from prosecuting their claims in Mississippi.

The Eleventh Circuit concluded that: the notice to appellants in the 1999 class action settlement satisfied due process requirements; and res judicata barred the appellants’ claims against Southern Farm in Mississippi because the claims clearly were within the scope of the earlier class action settlement and release.  The opinion can be found here.