Illinois Supreme Court Justice Lloyd Karmeier should have to submit to a subpoena in a $7 billion racketeering suit against State Farm because he associated with the alleged racketeers, according to Chicago lawyer Robert Clifford.
“The amount in controversy is staggering,” Clifford wrote in a May 8 motion to compel Karmeier’s production of documents about his 2004 election to the state high court. “The information sought is essential to proving the parties’ association."
Clifford, who is on the legal team representing the trio of plaintiffs who brought the 2012 suit in southern Illinois' federal court, seeks 64 kinds of records, including Karmeier’s tax returns from 2002 to 2007, and all his communications with 87 other persons and entities, one of which is The Madison-St. Clair Record.
The plaintiffs -- Mark Hale, Carly Vickers Morse and Todd Shadle -- assert that State Farm's allegedly improper support of Karmeier in his election resulted in an Illinois Supreme Court decision that overturned a valid $1 billion judgment against the insurance company in Avery v. State Farm.
Hale, Morse and Shadle were plaintiffs in Avery, which included about a class of about 4.7 million State Farm policyholders that accused the insurer of providing inferior parts for vehicle repairs.
In their class action racketeering suit, the plaintiffs basically contend that State Farm conspired with others to get a candidate elected to the Supreme Court who would vote to overturn the billion dollar judgment once elected.
“The issues in this action, including the independence of the judicial system, could not be more important,” Clifford wrote in his clients' recent filing.
He wrote that the racketeering statute makes it unlawful for any person associated with any enterprise to participate, directly or indirectly, in affairs of the enterprise. The words, “associated in any enterprise,” appear in italics.
On the same date the plaintiffs' filed their motion to compel, Karmeier's attorneys, A. Courtney Cox and Anthony L. Martin, moved to quash the subpoena or adopt a protective order keeping the documents confidential.
They also sought a protective order for a deposition of Karmeier that lawyers for three plaintiffs plan to conduct. They did not file a brief in support of the motion, but asked for permission to exceed a 20-page limit to do so.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephen Williams granted him 15 extra pages on May 12, and set a May 15 deadline for him to submit the brief.
Williams also resolved another dispute in Karmeier’s favor, ruling that State Farm’s lawyers can join his attorneys in conferences with the plaintiffs' lawyers. He also said lawyers for the individual defendants-- Ed Murnane, president of the Illinois Civil Justice League, and William Shepherd, an attorney at State Farm -- can join too.
Clifford raised the issue in his motion, proposing an alternative order that would require Karmeier’s counsel to meet with the plaintiffs' lawyers privately.
“In light of the impasse of the parties, plaintiffs ask this court to either command Justice Karmeier to produce the requested documents, or at the very least, to confer with plaintiffs’ counsel privately, without other defense counsel participating in the conference,” Clifford wrote.
Martin and Cox responded in their motion, quoting a procedural rule that such conferences should include other affected parties. Williams cited that rule, plus two others, in opening the conferences.
“Should any party or interested party believe in good faith that the meet and confer requires the input of another interested party to the case, or interested individual subject to subpoena, then any of the conferring parties may include that additional party in the meet and confer prior to bringing the matter to the court’s attention,” Williams wrote.
“This will also foster more productive meet and confers that do not need to be interrupted by consultation with interested parties that have been excluded from the conversation.”
The list of documents that Clifford wants Karmeier to produce begins with those relating to his selection as a candidate.
He then goes on to ask for documents from 2003 and 2004, between Karmeier and the Illinois Civil Justice League, Shepherd, Murnane, State Senators Dave Luechtefeld and Dwight Kay, the Illinois Republican Party, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its Institute for Legal Reform, the Illinois Coalition for Jobs, Growth and Prosperity, State Farm chief Ed Rust, and nine other persons.
The plaintiffs' motion to compel also seeks:
-Karmeier’s communications with State Farm since 2002;
-Communications with Martin’s firm, Sandberg Phoenix, about the State Farm case, from 2003 to 2005;
-Evidence of any agreement between Karmeier and other defendants for joint defense or cost sharing;
-Notes, letters, and articles he wrote about the case since 2003;
-His email address, back to 2003;
-Documents relating to Murnane’s relationship to the campaign;
-Illinois Civil Justice League documents down to its disaster recovery plan.
-Rosters of personnel information in the campaign and their job descriptions;
-Lists of computer equipment, hardware components and telephone equipment;
-Voice messages and phone use records;
-Names and passwords for news groups and chat groups;
-”Documents which in any way evidence your knowledge of who made any contribution (as defined) to your campaign in 2003-04 for the Fifth District seat on the Illinois Supreme Court for the election held in November 2004;”
-Bank statements, cancelled checks and deposit slips;
-Karhttp://cookcountyrecord.com/wp-admin/post-new.phpmeier’s personal calendars for 2003-04, “no matter what form they were kept or maintained;”
-Any article, interview, or communication by him in his campaign;
-Any article, interview, or public statement by him, apparently at any time;
-The identity of the campaign bookkeeper;
-Documents referencing any meeting of campaign employees or officers; and
-Personal calendars of everyone in the campaign.
Electronic court records show a hearing on the motions to quash, compel and for a protective order will take place June 13 in the East St. Louis courthouse.
Editor's note: This story was published Tuesday on the Madison-St. Clair Record website. Past stories on this case can be found at www.madisonrecord.com. The Record publications are owned by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Institute for Legal Reform.