Another half-million goes into Karmeier anti-retention effort; Contributors could share billions if overturned judgments are restored

By Ann Maher | Oct 21, 2014


Plaintiff attorneys who could share billions in fees from two resuscitated class action cases have added $500,000 to a campaign designed to unseat Illinois Supreme Court Justice Lloyd Karmeier.

Attorney Christine Moody, partner of Stephen Tillery at the St. Louis offices of Korein Tillery, today contributed $200,000 to "Campaign for 2016."

The committee was formed late last week for the purpose of opposing Karmeier’s bid to be retained to a second 10-year term.

It has so far spent $561,700 on television advertising and $169,056 for a brochure.

The television advertising, which has appeared in the Cape Girardeau, Mo. and Paducah, Ky. markets, alleges that Karmeier voted to reverse judgments against State Farm and Philip Morris after they supported his campaign in 2004.

In 2005, Karmeier participated in decisions that overturned class action judgments of about $10 billion in Price v. Philip Morris, and about $1 billion in Avery v. State Farm.

Nine years later, both cases remain alive.

Fifth District judges reinstated the Philip Morris judgment in April, finding the Justices would have affirmed it if they had seen evidence that came to light later.

When Philip Morris subsequently petitioned the Supreme Court for review, Tillery moved for Karmeier to recuse himself or for the other Justices to disqualify him.

Karmeier recently denied the motion. He offered his colleagues at the Supreme Court an opportunity to review and none of them called for disqualification.

The Court has granted Philip Morris leave to appeal and will schedule oral argument.

In the State Farm case, lead plaintiff Mark Hale pursues a racketeering suit before Chief U.S. District Judge David Herndon in East St. Louis.

Hale seeks to recover the overturned judgment with interest and triple damages for a total approaching $8 billion.

Other contributions made today toward the Karmeier anti-retention effort came from Clifford Law Offices of Chicago - one of the leading firms pursuing the Hale v. State Farm case - in the amount of $150,000.

Another $150,000 came from the Power Rogers & Smith firm of Chicago. Partner Joseph A. Power had been retained by Tillery as co-counsel in Price v. Philip Morris.

When Power joined the Price plaintiff's team in 2005, Supreme Court Justice Robert Thomas recused himself from proceedings because Power's firm provided representation to the Justice in a non-related legal matter.

On Monday, Chicago attorney George Zelcs, an associate of Tillery's, contributed $300,00 toward the anti-retention campaign.

So far, four individual contributions to Campaign for 2016 total $800,000.

In the meantime, Karmeier's campaign has raised $126,150 from approximately 35 sources.

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