Hylla hears Farmers Insurance summary judgment arguments in certified class action

Amelia Flood Jun. 7, 2010, 9:25am


The defendant in a certified Madison County class action argued Monday that the lead plaintiff and class of insurance adjusters were not entitled to overtime pay at issue in the suit.

Circuit Judge David Hylla heard Farmers Automobile Insurance Association's motion for summary judgment in the 2003 case that was certified in 2005 by retired Circuit Judge Phillip Kardis.

Lead plaintiff Christopher Loesche, a former insurance adjuster, claims Farmers violated the Illinois minimum wage law.

Hylla had previously denied Loesche's motion for summary judgment.

The class is represented by Lanny Darr.

Farmers is represented by Charles Reis.

The case returned to Madison County in December 2007 from the Fifth District Appellate Court in Mount Vernon where Justices James Wexstten, Thomas Welch and Stephen Spomer rejected Farmers' appeal of Kardis' certification.

Farmers had argued that the class was not large enough and the claims were not common enough to warrant a class action.

The defense also claimed that Loesche did not adequately protect the interests of the class.

The class consisted of 52 members at the time of the appeal.

Farmers argued in its motion for summary judgment that it can show that adjusters were exempt from the minimum wage law and not entitled to overtime pay.

It points to Loesche's deposition testimony and that of other adjusters about their duties and classification.

It cites paying the class members at least $455 a week in salary that satisfies part of the law. It also claims that class members were not performing extraordinary duties.

Farmers asked Hylla to enter summary judgment in its favor on the first and second counts of the suit, those pertaining to overtime and unjust enrichment.

Hylla took some issue with supporting depositions filed by the parties in relation to the summary judgment. According to Hylla's comments, the depositions are from non-parties in the case.

He asked the defense to explain how those were evidence in the case.

"I can't look at discovery depositions from a non-party in this case," Hylla said, explaining his concerns. "It's not admissible. It's not evidence yet."

The defense told Hylla that the statements in the depositions were not being used to impeach Loesche but rather to support the defense summary judgment move.

The plaintiff's table argued that the depositions conflicted with Loesche's statements and that they created issues of fact that needed to be decided at trial.

Hylla and the parties then agreed that only one element of the summary judgment motion is currently in dispute.

The disputed part of the motion pertains to how much individual
authority Loesche had. That plays into whether his position was exempt from the overtime law in effect while he was employed by Farmers.

Hylla gave the plaintiff until June 18 to file additional law citations and materials.

The defense will then respond before a hearing June 23 at 9:30 a.m.

The case is Madison case number 03-L-1147.

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