In a petition filed last week, a group of lawyers including former U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson are seeking to reinstate a $1 billion verdict against State Farm for covering up the full extent of its fundraising on behalf of an Illinois Supreme Court justice who overturned the award.
The petition is based on a six-month investigation conducted by former FBI agent Michael Reece, who now specializes in investigating cases of public corruption.
The insurance giant lied and deliberately misled the court contends the petition. State Farm raised at least $2.5 million up to as much as $4 million in contributions for Justice Lloyd Karmeier during the 2004 campaign.
The class action which dates back to 1997 – in which Karmeier refused to recuse himself – alleged State Farm breached its contract with customers by using non-original parts in vehicles damaged in car accidents. Some State Farm customers were awarded $465 million; while other customers were awarded $730 million.
The Appellate Court let stand a $1.05 billion judgment in 2001. Oral arguments were heard in May 2003. It was six months later that Karmeier ran. He was elected in 2004. State Farm later represented to the Supreme Court it provided $350,000 to Karmeier’s campaign.
An article by the Chicago Tribune says, a spokesman for State Farm, told them the case was resolved years ago, and the plaintiffs’ attempts to have the case heard by the U.S. Supreme Court were not successful.
“The bottom line of the investigation is that State Farm used the Illinois Civil Justice League to elect Judge Karmeier and he knew it,” Reece stated in his affidavit, which accompanied the petition.
Generally speaking, the decision to recuse from a case is up to the judge. But in a 2009 ruling, Caperton v. A. T. Massey Coal Co., the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the recusal of a West Virginia Supreme Court justice who was elected with the help of more than $3 million contributions from a coal mining executive.
According to the court, the justice should not have participated in a decision overturning a verdict against the CEO’s company.