“Things look grim, men, but don’t despair. It’s always darkest before the dawn. We’re up against it this time, but we still have one option left. It’s our last resort. We hoped it wouldn’t come to this, but now, at last, it has. It’s time to implement -- ‘The Karmeier Deposition’!”


When you find yourself watching a really cheesy movie full of clichés and stilted dialogue, you might think something that ridiculous could never happen in real life. Then, before the week’s out, something just like it does happen and you realize that real life is often like a bad movie.

Avery v. State Farm is like a bad movie, one of those doomsday films with the tired plot, wooden actors, low-grade special effects, and a preposterous conclusion. It makes you wonder how anyone came up with such a stupid premise, how anyone was persuaded to invest money in it, and how anyone associated with it ever thought it would be anything but a flop.

Avery is a 16-year-old lawsuit reincarnated as a RICO case. Certified as a class action in Williamson County Circuit Court in 1997, it accused State Farm of violating its contracts by using generic aftermarket parts for auto repairs. It enjoyed early victories in circuit and district courts, but the Illinois Supreme Court unanimously reversed the billion-dollar award in 2005. Six years later, the high court denied plaintiffs’ motion to reconsider its 2005 decision. The RICO case was filed last year in the Southern District of Illinois.

Desperate for a victory, the attorneys toyed with the idea of deposing Illinois Supreme Court Justice Lloyd Karmeier, on the supposition that his court unanimously overturned the billion-dollar award eight years ago because of campaign contributions made to him by State Farm.

The possible fallout from such a nuclear option seems to have unnerved them and now they have backed off part way.  In the meantime Avery remains a real-life bad movie in search of an ending.

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