Ben V. Seessel

Partner
ben.seessel dbr.com
Phone: (860) 509-8925 (860) 509-8925

About

Ben V. Seessel represents life insurers, annuity issuers, and other financial services companies in class actions and other complex cases in federal and state courts across the country. He has litigated numerous cases involving life insurance products, including defending against allegations of statutory and regulatory infractions, ERISA violations, violations of consumer protection laws, fraud, negligent misrepresentation, breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, negligence, and unjust enrichment, among other claims.

Ben also represents life insurers in regulatory and transactional matters, particularly those that concern the use of emerging technologies in connection with the design, marketing, and distribution of life insurance products. He counsels industry clients on the use of big data and predictive analytics.

Experience

  • Counseled financial services industry client in drafting and negotiating contracts regarding building and implementing its direct-to-consumer business.
  • Counseled long-term care insurer on communications to insureds and policy holders related to an impending rate adjustment.  
  • Counseled major U.S. life insurer in reaching a resolution and settlement agreement with state insurance regulator regarding unclaimed life insurance benefits.
  • Represented major U.S. life insurer in drafting and negotiating vendor contracts involving complex regulatory, data rights, and cybersecurity issues.
  • Seconded to major U.S. life insurer with responsibilities for a variety of regulatory and transactional matters for the company, reporting to the chief counsel for insurance products.
  • Obtained dismissal of a high-profile “rogue agent” case filed against a financial services industry client.
  • Obtained dismissal on ERISA preemption grounds of state law fraud and negligent misrepresentation claims lodged against a life insurer that had issued policies funding DUB benefits for an employee benefit plan.  
  • Represented service provider in ERISA class action litigation involving alleged “revenue sharing” fees received from mutual fund investment advisers and/or distributors in connection with 401(k) retirement plan business.
  • Represented industry groups as amicus curiae in appeals before the several federal courts of appeals in actions against life insurers challenging the use of retained asset accounts.
  • Represented life insurer in private actions and regulatory proceedings involving challenges to cost of insurance rate adjustments.
  • Represented private placement variable life insurance provider in class action matter relating to alleged losses attributable to Madoff “feeder fund” investments.
  • Represented insurance industry client in litigation involving alleged fraud in the sale of broad-based corporate-owned life insurance.
  • In re Tremont Sec. Law, State Law & Ins. Litig., 699 F. App'x 8, 18 (2d Cir. 2017) (represented private placement variable life insurer in its capacity as a financial institution class member in a nationwide class action settlement relating to alleged losses attributable to Madoff “feeder fund” investments), cert. denied sub nom. Haines v. Lange, No. 17-941 (U.S. Mar. 5, 2018).
  • Rochow v. Life Ins. Co. of N. Am., 482 F.3d 860 (6th Cir. 2015) (amicus counsel in support of appellant/prevailing party).
  • Merrimon v. Unum Life Ins. Co. of Am., 758 F.3d 46 (1st Cir. 2014) (amicus counsel in support of appellant/cross-appellee/prevailing party).
  • Edmonson v. Lincoln Nat’l Life Ins. Co., 725 F.3d 406 (3d Cir. 2013) (represented industry group as amicus curiae in support of appellee/prevailing party in appeal from district court's grant of summary judgment in ERISA class action involving a group life insurer's use of retained asset accounts to pay life insurance benefits).
  • SSR II, LLC v. John Hancock Life Ins. Co. (U.S.A.), 2012 N.Y. Slip Op. 51880(U) [37 Misc. 3d 1204 (A)] (N.Y. Supr. Ct. Sept. 28, 2012).
  • Otte v. Life Ins. Co. of N. Am., No. 11-1973 (1st Cir. 2011) (represented industry group as amicus curiae in appeal relating to district court's class certification order in ERISA litigation involving a group life insurer’s use of retained asset accounts to pay life insurance benefits).
  • Leonard v. ReliaStar Life Ins. Co., No. 3:05-cv-01015 (M.D. Ala. 2006) (defense of national class action alleging fraud and breach of contract claims involving universal life insurance policies).
  • Jackson v. American Bankers Ins. Group, No. 04-3083 (E.D. La. June 18, 2006) (obtained dismissal of putative class action involving credit insurance policies).
  • Benefit Consultants, Inc. v. Fortis Cos., No. 28611 (Tenn. Chan. Ct. May 26, 2005) (assisted financial services client in obtaining a $70 million jury verdict).
  • Law Offices of David Stern v. SCOR Reinsurance Co., No. 04-60170 (S.D. Fla. 2005) (defended reinsurer in direct action brought by policyholder following insurer's insolvency).
  • Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. AIG Life Ins. Co., 872 A.2d 611 (Del. Ch. 2005).
  • Wellman v. Great-West Life Ins. Co., NASD Arb. No. 03-05363 (NASD Southeast Region Feb. 20, 2005) (obtained dismissal of claims arising out of alleged misrepresentations in the sale of annuity product).
  • Bellikoff v. United of Omaha Life Ins. Co., No. 02-01914 (Fla. Cir. Ct. 2004) (defended putative nationwide class action regarding life insurance premium gap issues).
  • Novack Living Trust, et al. v. Citicorp Invest. Services, No. 03-06595 (NASD Southeast Region 2004) (defended broker-dealer against misrepresentation and suitability claims brought by purchaser of mutual funds).
  • Oden v. First Floridian Auto & Home Ins. Co., No. 02CA3244 (Fla. Cir. Ct. May 18, 2004) (obtained dismissal of putative class action alleging claims arising out of “tiered” commission rates of automobile insurer).
  • Hayes v. American Bankers Ins. Group, No. 01-22010, (Fla. Cir. Ct. Dec. 17, 2004) (obtained dismissal, with subsequent award of attorney's fees, on claim  for breach of “golden parachute” agreement) aff'd, No. 050113 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. Dec. 28, 2005).
  • Lloyd/Huskey v. The O.N. Equity Sales Co., NASD Arb. No. 02-07872 (NASD Southeast Region 2002) (defended broker-dealer against suitability, misrepresentation, and federal and state securities laws claims).
  • “Innovation in Regulation,” Connecticut Insurance Market Summit, panel moderator with Connecticut Insurance Commissioner Katherine Wade, Maine Superintendent Eric Cioppa, and NAIC CLO and COO Andrew Beal, Hartford, CT (November 29, 2018)
  • "InsurTech," Bermuda Under 40s NYC Market Tour (September 2018)
  • “Regulatory Sandboxes,” American Council of Life Insurers’ Annual Conference, Orlando, FL (October 2017)
  • “Using Big Data: Legal Implications of Predictive Modeling,” American Council of Life Insurers’ Compliance and Legal Sections Annual Meeting, Coeur D’Alene, ID (July 2017)
  • “Innovation and the Future of Insurance and InsurTech,” American Council of   Life Insurers’ Compliance and Legal Sections Annual Meeting, Coeur D’Alene, ID (July 2017)
  • Industry Response Panel on Innovation, Connecticut Insurance Market Summit, Hartford, CT (November 10, 2016)
  • “Big Data – Practical Problems, Proposed Solutions, and Ethical Considerations,” Client Focus Forum, Baltimore (October 2016)
  • "Big Data - Playing by the Rules," Dig|In: The Digital Future of Insurance Conference (May 2, 2016)
  • “Big Data – Practical Problems, Proposed Solutions, and Ethical Considerations,” Client Focus Forum, Boston (October 2015)
  • “Big Data – Practical Problems, Proposed Solutions, and Ethical Considerations,” Client Focus Forum, Newport Beach, CA (October 2015)
  • Co-author of the preemption chapter in the Fourth Edition of Handbook on ERISA Litigation, Wolters Kluwer Law & Business/Aspen Publishers (1992) (4th ed. 2015)

Credentials

Bar Admissions

  • Connecticut
  • Florida
  • New York

Education

  • University of Miami School of Law, J.D., 2002, magna cum laude; Order of the Coif; Associate Editor, University of Miami Inter-American Law Review
  • Rutgers University, B.A., 1992

Court Admissions

  • U.S. District Court, District of Connecticut
  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of Florida
  • U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida
  • U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York

Organizations

  • American Bar Association
    • Editor, Section of Litigation’s Class Actions & Derivative Suits Committee Newsletter
    • Section of Litigation
    • Section of Tort Trial and Insurance Practice
  • Connecticut Bar Association
  • New York Association
  • Florida Bar Association