State Farm lied to the Court?
October 3, 2011 Leave a comment
First things first. Judicial campaigns cost a lot of money. When I say a lot of money, I do not mean a few thousand dollars or even a hundred thousand. That is the kind of money that was spent eight to ten years ago. Now, it is not unusual to see $700k and on up into the millions spent on a campaign for a state Supreme Court position. So what is it that causes people and corporations to spend this kind of money? Is it to ensure justice? Not exactly.
According to the plaintiffs’ allegations in the Avery v. State Farm case, a verdict was entered against State Farm for approximately $1.05 billion. I vaguely remember Avery and that it dealt with aftermarket parts State Farm required when repairing automobiles. So what happened to the verdict? The Illinois Supreme Court overturned it largely upon a 4-2 vote (4 votes are needed to overturn the Appellate Court in Illinois). While it is not unusual to see huge verdicts overturned, it is unusual to see someone challenge a state Supreme Court decision years after a mandate was issued (meaning the case was finally decided and closed).
The plaintiffs in Avery are attempting to reopen the case based on newly discovered evidence alleging that State Farm concealed significant and disproportionate support of an Illinois Supreme Court Justice. Specifically, the plaintiffs are claiming that State Farm spent $2.5 million to $4 million to help elect an Illinois Supreme Court Justice, but only reported approximately $350k in contributions. Then, the Justice refused to recuse himself and voted in favor of State Farm in the Avery case. Several news stories can be found here, here and here.
At this point, all we have are the plaintiffs’ allegations so I am not going to say much more about this other than to say you can expect State Farm to mount a vigorous defense. It will be interesting to see how this plays out over the next few months and possibly years.