It has been reported that State Farm allegedly gave campaign donations to Judge Lloyd Karmeier in 2004 during one of the nation’s most expensive judicial races. The judge won his race, becoming a member of the Illinois Supreme Court. It was also reported that once on the Court, Judge Karmeier voted to overturn a billion-dollar verdict against State Farm in 2005. At the time, it was known that Judge Karmeier received donations from State Farm during his judicial race. Interestingly, Judge Karmeier declined to recuse himself, according to reports.
The State Supreme Court was said to have analyzed the potential bias at the time, and found none. Apparently, the Court thought State Farm had only raised $350,000 of Judge Karmeier’s donations. Apparently, that, according to media reports is because $350,000 is the amount that State Farm told the Court it donated when company officials were asked. Apparently, an FBI investigation discovered later that State Farm actually gave between $2.4 and $4 million in donations for Judge Karmeier’s judicial campaign.
I am not sure what motivated State Farm to give a wrong number to the Court, but the true amount of donations contributed by the company certainly puts Karmeier’s ruling in a much different light. It also creates a much bigger chance that Judge Karmeier wasn’t completely impartial. Lawyers, including former U.S. Senator Fred Thompson, have filed a class action suit against State Farm, claiming that the giant insurance company defrauded the Court. They are asking that the Supreme Court reconsider its decision to overturn the $1 billion verdict. It will be most interesting to see how all of this plays out.
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