In March 2005, Northwestern Mutual filed suit against David Stinnett, a former NML agent in Evansville, Indiana and his company, Policyowner Protection Service Inc. The company claimed that Stinnett and the company started the website www.nmlcomplaints.com in 1999 in order to extort upwards of $100 million from NML.
NML alleged that David Stinnett and his associates started the website in order to attract policyholders to file lawsuits against NML. Stinnett would refer policyholders to attorneys, and in turn he would receive referral fees.
The website and the group running it described it as a non-profit consumer organization aimed at providing information to those who couldn’t afford it. The claimed they also wanted to create public awareness of the activities of NML.
The lawsuit accused Stinnett and his associates of illegaly soliciting lawsuits, illegally practicing law, and engaging in deceptive insurance consulting. The defendants were also accused of violating racketeering laws. It is alleged that Stinnet contacted NML exectives on several occasions, asking them if NML was interested in acquiring Policyowner Protection Service. He allegedly said that he would continue his public campaign against the company unless NML began making a series of payments.
On July 27, a monetary judgment of $28.2 million was issued against Policyowner Protection Service. The judge found that the company and its associates “engaged in disparagement of Northwestern Mutual . . . for the express, illegal and criminal purpose of extortion.”