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Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Class certification briefing deadlines extended, investigator's deposition ordered in Hale v. State Farm

By Ann Maher | Oct 29, 2015


An investigator for plaintiffs in the high stakes Hale v. State Farm racketeering case must submit to a deposition by Dec. 8.

On Wednesday, U.S. Magistrate Stephen Williams gave Doug Wojcieczak the extra time he sought after previously canceling a deposition on five days notice, but Williams also extended a critical deadline that State Farm faced in three weeks.

Wojcieczak worked as investigator for a group of lawyers suing State Farm over its role in the 2004 campaign of Illinois Supreme Court Justice Lloyd Karmeier. State Farm seek answers from Wojcieczak about his investigation, as it argues that a statute of limitations had expired by the time the RICO suit was filed in 2012.

A hearing that had been set Thursday morning for Wojcieczak to show cause why State Farm should not depose him before Nov. 13 was canceled following a telephone conference that took place Wednesday afternoon.

The phone conference resulted in an extension for Wojcieczak, as well as parties agreeing to extend State Farm's deadline to respond a class certification motion to Dec. 18. Plaintiff's reply brief will then be due Jan. 8, 2016.

At a hearing Oct. 20, State Farm attorney Joseph Cancila told Williams that Wojcieszak canceled an Oct. 7 deposition about his investigation, on Oct. 2. Cancila said that Wojcieczak had been in a car accident on July 25, and a letter from his doctor was presented to Williams by Cancila.

Wojcieczak is represented by David Cates of Swansea, but Cates did not appear at the Oct. 20 hearing. However, Cancila said that Cates had offered deposition dates of Dec. 6 or 7.

Cancila said State Farm had been counting on Wojcieczak's deposition for its brief opposing class certification. He also said that State Farm expected to depose Wojcieszak before deposing two other investigators on dates that were outstanding at the time.

Williams said that if Cates wanted to delay on the basis laid out in the letter, "Mr. Cates has to come in here and ask.” He said that pushing it to December didn’t make sense.

William's minute entry of Oct. 28 does not reflect Cates's presence on the phone conference.

Also in the entry, Williams directed parties to confer on a discovery dispute involving Karmeier and report back in a joint email by Nov. 6.

According to a memorandum and order Williams entered Oct. 22, Karmeier has not yet been deposed because both sides are still working out issues related to timing and scope.

Williams wrote that plaintiffs have indicated there are "issues" regarding searches of computers owned by the Illinois Supreme Court.

"Plaintiffs discovered that Karmeier participated in an interview with a journal affiliated with the University of Illinois and at that interview, Karmeier presented a timeline to the journal," Williams wrote.

"That timeline was not produced by Karmeier in his production to Plaintiffs. Counsel for Karmeier notes that it was not produced because it was created after November 2014 and after the subpoena was issued to Karmeier. Counsel for Karmeier argues that it does not have a duty to supplement its responses to the subpoena and the document was not located on Karmeier’s individual computer but computers owned by the Illinois Supreme Court which were not searched in response to the subpoena."

Williams presides over discovery for District Judge David Herndon.

Mark Hale of New York State filed the suit on behalf of a class that won $1 billion in Williamson County in 1999, but lost it at the Illinois Supreme Court in 2005.

Hale claims State Farm secretly supported Karmeier in 2004, in order to overturn the Williamson County judgment.

He claims State Farm misled the Supreme Court about its role in the campaign, not only in 2005 but also when the class tried to reopen the case in 2011.

He seeks to recover the judgment plus interest, with treble damages, bringing the total to about $8 billion.

Steve Korris contributed to this report. 

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Organizations in this Story

Joseph A. Cancila Jr.Robert A. CliffordCates Mahoney, LLCIllinois Supreme CourtU.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois East St. Louis