Judge denies motion to amend complaint against Sun Life Financial alleging fraudulent withdrawals

By Sandra Lane | May 29, 2018

NEW ORLEANS – A judge in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana recently denied a motion to amend a complaint against Sun Life Financial and other defendants in a case alleging fraudulent withdrawals from an annuity. 

In her May 25, 2018, ruling U.S. Judge Sarah S. Vance also denied plaintiff Levi E. Robertson’s motion to set a class certification schedule.

The case was originally filed in a state court on Oct. 9, 2008, claiming allegedly fraudulent withdrawals from Robertson’s annuity account by defendant Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada, Matthew Pizzolato and other defendants.

In her ruling, Vance stated the following reasons for denial of both motions.

“Robertson seeks to add new class action allegations nearly 10 years after filing suit and six years after first asserting a breach of contract claim in his third amended petition," the ruling said. "Robertson fails to explain this prolonged delay. These factors weigh heavily against granting leave to amend,” she said

She added that Robertson had already amended his complaint four times and thus had numerous opportunities to assert a breach of contract claim on a class basis. “Permitting Robertson to bring new class claims at this stage of the litigation will unduly prejudice Sun Life,” she said.

In his original petition, Robertson alleged that Pizzolato had forged a check for $99,999.99 in his name, and Sun Life negligently permitted a withdrawal in this amount from Robertson’s annuity account without contacting him to verify the transaction. However, these claims against Sun Life were later dismissed with prejudice in state court. 

In addition, in March 2012, Robertson filed a third amended petition in state court claiming a breach of contract against Sun Life.  He said that he entered into a 10-year annuity contract with Sun Life in July 2005 and that the company breached this contract by failing to secure his investment through the use of normal industry standards.

On Feb. 27, 2017, Robertson filed a fourth amended petition lodging state and federal racketeering claims against Sun Life and requesting that the case proceed as a class action.

On March 15, 2017, Sun Life removed this matter to federal court. On Sept. 22, 2017, the court dismissed with prejudice Robertson’s state and federal racketeering claims as being time-barred. On Jan. 22, 2018, the court denied plaintiff’s motion to remand to state court.

In his most recent court motions, which were denied by Vance, Robertson requested leave to file a fifth amended complaint to include additional class action allegations. The judge said that Robertson’s proposed allegations “assert that the class members share common causes of action, but he fails to identify any specific common cause of action.”

Vance also ruled that “because Robertson fails to identify any class claim remaining in this case, the court perceives no good cause to extend the class certification deadline. Moreover, Robertson fails to explain his delay in a timely manner.”

Accordingly, Robertson’s motion to set a class certification schedule was denied.

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