Plaintiffs in $10 billion and $1 billion judgments relied on faulty research, defense says

By The Madison County Record | Aug 13, 2014

Separate legal teams aiming to restore giant judgments against Philip Morris and State Farm withheld from State Farm more than 1,000 documents about their research on campaign contributions to Illinois Supreme Court Justice Lloyd Karmeier in 2004.

Lawyers suing State Farm asserted privilege over documents subject to a State Farm subpoena and so did lawyers suing Philip Morris, State Farm lawyer Joseph Cancila told U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephen Williams on July 29.

Cancila said lawyers suing State Farm asserted privilege over 784 documents that State Farm requested from Tactical Investigations, the firm that conducted the research. He also said the lawyers withheld 413 documents after Stephen Tillery of St. Louis, leader of the team suing Philip Morris, asserted privilege over them.

Chief District Judge David Herndon presides; Williams manages discovery.

At the conference before Williams, Cancila said he believes the documents would show that Tactical Investigations attributed to State Farm the same indirect contributions it attributed to Philip Morris.

“And its amici,” Cancila said, referring to organizations that filed briefs at the Illinois Supreme Court as friends of Philip Morris.

“In this case they attributed the same money as coming from State Farm and its supposed amici,” Cancila said.

“We believe that, based on our discussions, this will be an issue that will ultimately need adjudication by the court.”

He said State Farm lawyer Patrick Cloud of Edwardsville discussed Tillery’s assertion of privilege with Tillery’s lawyer, Bill Lucco of Edwardsville.

Williams told Cancila to invite Lucco to the next court conference, on Aug. 27.

Plaintiffs suing State Farm claim it fraudulently secured Karmeier’s victory so the Supreme Court would overturn a billion dollar judgment from Williamson County.

Plaintiffs suing Philip Morris claim it fraudulently secured Karmeier’s victory so the Supreme Court would overturn a $10 billion dollar judgment from Madison County.

The parallel cases proceed in separate courts.

Tillery seeks a new opinion on Philip Morris at the Supreme Court, after persuading Fifth District appellate judges that the Justices would have affirmed the judgment had they known what they now know about federal regulation of cigarette labels.

His 14 year old suit seeks damages not for lung diseases but for false advertising of health benefits in light and low tar cigarettes.

Plaintiffs suing State Farm in federal court seek civil penalties and triple damages from State Farm, employee William Shepherd, and Illinois Civil Justice League director Ed Murnane under racketeering law.

The original suit, 17 years ago, accused State Farm of supplying inferior parts for crash repairs.

At the July 29 conference, plaintiff lawyer Robert Clifford of Chicago told Williams that a big hurdle was the time frame of relevancy.

Cancila said the issue was whether the same period applies to all parties.

He said defendants believe the period should be linked to the campaign between Karmeier and Gordon Maag in 2004.

He proposed simultaneous briefs on the time frame, rather than the usual back and forth of a motion from one side and a response from the other side.

Plaintiff lawyer Stephen Blonder of Chicago said State Farm asked for information on a certain period, for defenses it plans to raise.

He asked whether what was relevant to one side was relevant to the other.

“We may just as well brief it,” Williams said,

Williams adopted Cancila’s idea of simultaneous briefs.

Blonder opened another sensitive subject, saying plaintiffs hadn’t completed conferring with third parties about subpoenas that plaintiffs served on them.

He said the First Amendment and relevance would be issues.

Williams told him to invite the third parties to the Aug. 27 conference.

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