EAST ST. LOUIS – U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephen Williams prescribed a crash course in communications for opponents in a fraud suit against State Farm.
“We are talking past one another to some degree,” he said at a hearing on Feb. 4.
Williams ordered lawyers to meet and confer by Feb. 6, for at least four hours.
He said they would confer in person or by video, and not by telephone.
They are to confer again by Feb. 13, for at least three hours. And, they are to confer again on Feb. 17, for at least three hours.
Williams told them to file a joint submission by noon on Feb. 20, presenting each side’s position on all discovery disputes.
"It may be very long," he said.
He set a hearing Feb. 25.
Williams manages discovery for U.S. District Judge David Herndon, who would preside over a trial.
Lead plaintiff Mark Hale, of New York State, claims State Farm fraudulently secured the election of Illinois Supreme Court Justice Karmeier in 2004.
Hale seeks to recover a $1 billion verdict that the Supreme Court reversed in 2005, with triple damages under racketeering law plus interest.