Judge orders defendant to produce documents from 1991

Steve Korris Feb. 7, 2007, 11:38am

Judge Dave Hylla

Madison County Circuit Judge Dave Hylla has granted a Lakin Law Firm motion to start the clock on a class action suit in 1991.

Hylla on Jan. 23 ordered United Life Insurance to answer the Lakin firm's questions on policies it sold in Illinois from 1991 to 2000.

He also ordered United Life to produce documents on marketing and advertising in Illinois from 1991 to the present.

Hylla rejected United Life's argument that the questions covered many years more than the statute of limitations.

The order closed an odd process of three steps by three judges.

Plaintiff Christopher Booher of Wood River sued United Life in 2001, alleging fraud in sales of credit insurance on automobile purchases.

Former Circuit Judge Phillip Kardis certified Booher's claim as a multi-state class action in 2003.

In 2005 Kardis retired and the case passed to Circuit Judge Don Weber.

United Life moved to decertify the class in light of an Illinois Supreme Court decision in Avery v. State Farm.

In Avery, the Justices held that courts cannot apply Illinois consumer fraud law to transactions in other states.

Weber did not decertify the class but he shrank it to Illinois only.

Last August, Daniel Cohen of the Lakin firm asked United Life to identify everyone who bought credit insurance in Illinois from 1991 to 2000.

He asked for name, address, social security number, date of birth, specific purchase, total price and the amount the dealer paid United Life.

He asked United Life to identify every Illinois dealer who sold policies from 1991 to 2000. He asked for the number of each policy.

Cohen asked for all documents on marketing and advertising in Illinois from 1991 to the present.

For United Life, James Garrison of St. Louis filed objections in September 2006.

Cohen moved Sept. 20 to compel answers. He wrote that Kardis specifically rejected temporal boundaries in defining the class.

He wrote that Weber narrowed the geographic scope of the class but did not narrow its temporal identification or the scope of discovery.

He wrote that United Life "fails to take account of the availability of the 'discovery rule' as a means of tolling and/or extending the statute of limitations…"

Garrison replied, "…there has been absolutely no proof of the existence of any discovery issue."

"There is absolutely no evidence in this case which would support the tolling of the applicable statutes of limitations…," Garrison wrote.

He called it a fishing expedition.

Hylla disagreed. After a Jan. 12 hearing he granted the motion.

The Record requested a transcript of the hearing but no court reporter transcribed it.

Plaintiff Booher went to high school with Brad Lakin of the Lakin firm, according to Booher's deposition in another Lakin case.

In that case Booher sued General Motors over an extended service plan.

In his deposition Booher said that a friend at a social event told him he was working on kickbacks at car dealerships.

He said the friend was Brad Lakin. He said, "I grew up with him in the summers playing baseball."

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