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Settlement Firm Loses Round

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A state appeals court says New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo can pursue a life settlement case in state court, rather than taking the case to arbitration.

Cuomo’s office has filed a complaint accusing Coventry First L.L.C., Fort Washington, Pa., of rigging the life insurance policy bidding process.

The complaint, filed in October 2006, also names Montgomery Capital Inc. and Reid S. Buerger, Coventry’s chief executive, as defendants.

Coventry has argued that its agreements with life insurance sellers require the sellers to take any disputes to arbitration.

One state court sided with Coventry. A state appeals court later overturned that ruling, holding that the attorney general’s office was not bound by arbitration agreements it had not signed.

The new state appeals court ruling upholds a lower-court decision that would permit Cuomo’s office to press the case in state court.

“Coventry First and Mr. Buerger believe the substance of the allegations [is] without merit and will vigorously contest the substance of the allegations,” Coventry First says in a statement commenting on the new court of appeals decision.