A lawsuit accusing Guggenheim Partners LLC and three life insurance companies it controls of deceiving annuity buyers and engaging in racketeering was dropped without explanation the day after it was brought.
The 105-page complaint was filed in federal court in Chicago on Feb. 11 by Clarice Whitmore and Helga Maria Schulzki. They were seeking to sue on behalf of anyone who bought an annuity from the defendants since Jan. 1, 2010.
A notice of voluntary dismissal was filed with the court yesterday by Elizabeth Fegan, a partner at Seattle-based law firm Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP, which represented the plaintiffs. While the document gave no explanation for the about-face, it reserved the plaintiffs’ rights to pursue their claims.
Schulzki and Whitmore had alleged that Guggenheim Partners, a unit of Chicago-based Guggenheim Capital LLC, took control of Security Benefit Life Insurance Co., Guggenheim Life & Annuity Co. and Equitrust Life Insurance Co., depleted the carriers’ surpluses and eroded their reserves while continuing to market their annuities as safe investments.
The plaintiffs likened the defendants’ conduct to that of the collapsed Houston-based energy firm Enron Corp., claiming they used complex accounting to create an appearance of financial strength and stability by moving liabilities off the life insurers’ books to two other entities.
Michael Sitrick, a spokesman for Guggenheim, said on Feb. 11 that the allegations were false and without merit.
“These insurance companies are properly and well capitalized, including capital and reserve requirements well in excess of all regulatory requirements,” he said in an e-mailed statement.
Fegan didn’t immediately respond to a phone message seeking comment on yesterday’s filing. Sitrick didn’t immediately respond to an e-mailed request for comment today.
The case is Whitmore v. Guggenheim Partners LLC, 14-cv-00948, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois (Chicago).