Lawsuit seeking class-action status filed against State Farm alleging racial discrimination

Published: Dec. 14, 2022 at 1:18 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 15, 2022 at 10:28 AM CST
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(25 News Now) - Jacqueline Huskey, a Black resident of Matteson, Illinois, has filed a lawsuit again State Farm, alleging the company racially discriminates against Black home insurance policyholders.

The lawsuit filed in the Northern District of Illinois, seeks class-action status. But, it’s based on Huskey’s experience with State Farm after her single-family home was damaged by hail on June 12, 2021. The suit says four months after filing her claim State Farm granted it, “but only for the cost of internal repairs. Huskey still has not reached a resolution with State Farm as to the damage to the outside of her roof and has been unable to repair it.”

Her situation being exacerbated by further water damage to her home is says, “to her kitchen and to two bathrooms caused by leaks in the unrepaired roof—and a decrease to her home’s overall value. She estimates that she has had 20 to 30 conversations with State Farm regarding this claim, including as recently as May 2022.”

The suit starts with the specifics of Huskey’s situation, but the Center on Race, Inequality and The Law at New York University School of Law took the matter further, maybe further than most anybody before, surveying about 800 Black and white homeowners across six-Midwest states. That survey, the lawsuit says reveals marked disparities between State Farm’s handling of claims. Specifically, it asserts,” white homeowners were almost a third more likely than Black homeowners to have their claim processed expeditiously (in less than a month).” The document goes on to explain that the racial disparity is, “statistically significant,” saying “it would occur less than 5% of the time as a result of random chance.”

Further, the lawsuit alleges claims made by black homeowners are disproportionally subjected to greater suspicion than claims made by white homeowners, saying State Farm is more likely to request additional claims documentation from Black claimants, like Huskey who must also have more interactions with State Farm employees to resolve their claims.

Huskey’s suit was filed as a class action matter by Mehri & Skalet PLLC out of Evanston, IL, Fairmarket Partners LLP, Washington DC and the Center on Race, Inequality and The Law at New York University School of Law.

“This is monumental,” said Carla Jackson-Campbell, PhD, Vice President of the Bloomington-Normal NAACP.

Campbell-Jackson filed her own lawsuit last year against State Farm. She claims discrimination and retaliation during a nearly 30-year career with America’s top homeowner’s insurance company.

“This study has validated what we initially brought to the forefront of the organization,” Campbell-Jackson continued, “It is about the possibly thousands, upon thousands of African American families who have been disenfranchised.”

Bloomington-Normal NAACP President Linda Foster commends those who are standing up against the company.

“We have got to continue to stay on this battlefield,” said Foster.

The suit seeks financial damages and also in part asks that State Farm be required to monitor and audit its claims processing methods, to ensure a remedy to any discriminatory practices in claims processing. Huskey is requesting a jury trial.

State Farm says they are taking this filing seriously and the suit does not reflect the values they hold.

We take this filing seriously. This suit does not reflect the values we hold at State Farm. State Farm is committed to a diverse and inclusive environment, where all customers and associates are treated with fairness, respect, and dignity. We are dedicated to paying what we owe, promptly and courteously.

Gina Morss-Fischer, Public Affairs Specialist, State Farm

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