WIUM Local
7:07 pm
Tue September 13, 2011

State Farm, Illinois Supreme Court, & Fraud

Bloomington, IL – Lawyers accuse State Farm Insurance of lying about and trying to cover up the amount of company support in a massively expensive race for State Supreme Court back in 2004. A filing alleges fraud against the State Supreme Court.

The case involves a class action lawsuit involving State Farm's policies on use of after-market auto parts in repairs. In 2005, the State Supreme Court overturned a $1 billion dollar judgment against the Bloomington (IL) insurance giant with the key vote of newly elected Justice Lloyd Karmeier.

The plaintiffs now want the high court to at least reconsider the case without Karmeier.

Court papers allege that at the time, State Farm characterized its donations to Karmeier as: a limited number of officers and employees making quite modest contributions.

In fact, the filing indicates an investigation by a retired FBI agent shows State Farm lobbyist Bill Shepherd helped recruit Karmeier for the race, and funneled loads of money through the Illinois Civil Justice League to Karmeier. Shepherd also was a member of the Civil Justice League's Executive Committee.

State Farm then denied that Ed Murnane, the head of the Civil Justice League, ran Karmeier's campaign, something now confirmed by e-mails.

The filing says Karmeier knew State Farm was bankrolling him to the tune of $2.5 to $4 million -- or up to 56% of all his funding. Yet, he still failed to recuse himself from the case.

The filing notes the $1 billion ruling in State Farm's favor is either a coincidence or an impressive rate of return on State Farm's investment.

In either case, the argument goes, other justices should have disqualified Karmeier from hearing the issue because of a serious risk of actual bias.

The plaintiffs quote a U-S Supreme Court ruling on a different case that "...just as no man is allowed to be a judge in his own cause no man should be able to choose a judge in his own cause."

The filing says State Farm's immense efforts created a constitutionally intolerable probability of bias and possibly denied them their due process rights.

State Farm responds to the new allegations by saying only that the case was decided years ago and the appeal to the U-S Supreme Court was rejected.

Thanks to Illinois Public Radio