EAST ST. LOUIS – Plaintiffs suing State Farm for $10 billion couldn’t ask Illinois Supreme Court Justice Lloyd Karmeier about his deliberations in a deposition, but they claim they can prove State Farm corrupted his deliberations anyway.
Class counsel Steven Blonder promised proof in a brief for U.S. District Judge David Herndon on July 31, though much of it was redacted.
Blonder claims State Farm secured Karmeier’s election in 2004, to overturn a $1 billion judgment from a Williamson County class action, Avery v. State Farm.
“Judge Karmeier knew State Farm played a significant role in funding his campaign,” Blonder wrote in the brief.
He blacked out 29 lines after that, and then changed the subject.
Later, he wrote that Karmeier knew his campaign received millions of dollars from organizations in which State Farm exerted significant influence.
He named the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Illinois Civil Justice League, and Illinois Business Round Table as examples.
He blacked out the next four lines.
“And again, while the judicial deliberation privilege prevented plaintiffs from asking Justice Karmeier whether this knowledge influenced his decisions or deliberations in Avery, these documents and all the other evidence of the racketeering scheme allow a trier of fact to conclude it did,” he wrote.
“Plaintiffs have contended that they need not show that Judge Karmeier knew the source of his donations to prove their racketeering claims.”
He wrote that this didn’t mean that they couldn’t prove this fact.
“Plaintiffs can do so,” he wrote.
Blonder’s brief opposed a motion from State Farm for summary judgment.
State Farm’s motion argued that federal courts couldn’t overturn state courts.
Blonder answered that the claims of the class are based on State Farm’s conduct, not on state court decisions.
In a section on the Civil Justice League, he blacked out 13 of 33 lines and asserted that State Farm wielded great power over its director, Edward Murnane.
Murnane stands with State Farm as a defendant.
In a section on defendants recruiting Karmeier and managing his campaign, he blacked out seven of 30 lines.
He quoted a Power Point presentation stating Murnane convinced Karmeier to run.
In a section on State Farm funding the campaign, he blacked out everything about a Civil Justice Reform group.
He wrote that State Farm covertly contributed $3.5 million through a web of intermediaries, to ensure that Karmeier could participate in Avery.
“Illinois campaign finance rules require an entity contributing to a campaign to reveal its sub donors if any sub donor accounts for over one third of that entity’s contributions to the campaign,” he wrote.
“State Farm kept its contributions anonymous by ensuring that the groups it used did not cross the 33 percent threshold.”
He blacked out the next nine lines.
He wrote that Karmeier and State Farm chief executive Ed Rust met privately in Chicago while the Avery case was pending.
“Plaintiffs here seek to vindicate their right to be judged by a tribunal that is uncontaminated by politics,” he wrote.
“They allege that defendants’ fraudulent scheme robbed them of that right to an untainted tribunal, and so far succeeded in corrupting the state judicial process as to obtain a favorable judgment.”
He wrote that state court judgments could stand in federal court only when state court proceedings complied with constitutional due process.
Herndon has set trial next year.
(Editor’s note: The Record is owned by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform).