A San Diego law firm filed a civil lawsuit Oct. 20 against a broker of life insurance benefits and several major group benefits carriers.[@@]

The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of California by Lerach Coughlin Stoia Geller Rudman & Robbins LLP on behalf of Ronald Scott Shirley.

Ted Pintar, a Lerach partner in San Diego, says the suit brings RICO and other civil claims against a San Diego broker, Universal Life Resources, and the following insurers: Aetna, CIGNA, Life Insurance Company of North America, MetLife, Prudential and UnumProvident.

The suit alleges payment was made to the broker for “undisclosed charges” including “communication fees,” Pintar adds. “ULR would be in the best position to describe what a communication fee is,” he adds.

Those fees were passed to client employers, says Pintar. “This goes well beyond the standard commission. It is a separate and stand-alone charge.”

At press time, ULR issued a statement saying it is reviewing the suit, but categorically denies any kickbacks, as has been suggested in media reports. “ULR maintains proper relationships with its clients and their insurance carriers,” ULR adds.

Lerach has also been retained by the California insurance department to look into the issue of brokerage fees, a spokesman for the California department says.