Madison - St. Clair Record

Monday, September 23, 2019

Editor's phone records subpoenaed by plaintiffs in State Farm RICO case

By The Madison County Record | Apr 3, 2014

Plaintiff attorneys seeking to prove they lost a $1 billion judgment in a civil racketeering suit against insurer State Farm served a subpoena for nearly seven years of telephone records from the editor of the Madison County Record newspaper.

The subpoena was issued Feb. 14 to AT&T and commanded production by March 14. It was withdrawn on March 5, but may be reissued soon, according to an attorney for the newspaper.

It sought “all phone records, account statements and recorded data, including but not limited to, receiving phone number, originating phone number, time, date, length of call and text message data pertaining to any of the following customers and/or phone numbers,” from June 1, 2002, to Dec. 31, 2005, and Jan. 1, 2011, to the present.

The subpoena, dated Feb. 14, cited Hale v. State Farm, a potential class action pending in U.S. district court.

The newspaper has written extensively about “Hale,” as well as a predecessor class action “Avery v. State Farm.”

In Hale, class action lawyers sued State Farm in 2012, claiming its secret and improper support of Lloyd Karmeier secured his victory in the 2004 election.

They named Karmeier backers Ed Murnane and William Shepherd as defendants.

They claimed Karmeier tainted the Court so deeply that in 2005, a majority reversed a $1 billion judgment – Avery – against State Farm. Avery arose from the court of Williamson County associate judge John Speroni who entered judgment in 1999, after jurors found State Farm supplied inferior parts for crash repairs.

Records sought in the subpoena specified 57 phone numbers and nine faxes. The contact list included Karmeier, his campaign offices in Nashville and Collinsville, 16 other political persons and groups, and the Record newspaper itself.

The notice from AT&T, which included the subpoena, was received by the editor of the Madison County Record on March 17, three days after the date records were to be produced.

The notice, from the phone company’s court order compliance unit in North Palm Beach, Florida, bore no signature.

“As a courtesy, we are notifying you that we have received the enclosed subpoena for cellular telephone records related to the above referenced account,” the letter stated.

“We are not required to provide this notice, either by applicable law or our subscriber agreement with you, and we will not charge any fee for providing this notice to you.”

It stated that AT&T was required to comply by March 24.

“Should you have any questions about the subpoena, or wish to attempt to have the subpoena withdrawn or quashed, we have no ability to assist you,” it stated.

“Instead, you should contact the issuer of the subpoena directly at the address and telephone number shown below.

“You may also want to seek the advice of your attorney. We are pleased to advise you with this notice, and hope you find it helpful.”

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