WASHINGTON, D.C.-The United States Chamber of Commerce hailed the Illinois Supreme Court’s decision stripping class action status in State Farm v. Avery. The case was originally filed in Williams County, which ranked as one of the worst jurisdictions in the country for class action abuse.
“This is a victory for businesses and it sends a strong signal that class action abuse won’t be tolerated,” said Robin Conrad, senior vice president of the National Chamber Litigation Center, the Chamber’s public policy law firm, which filed an amicus brief supporting class decertification. “The aggregation of 4.7 million claims in one lawsuit defied common sense and violated State Farm’s due process rights. Had this case gone forward as a class action, it would have been a travesty of justice.”
The case dates back to a 1999 challenge of State Farm’s use of generic aftermarket parts that resulted in a $1.18 billion judgment against the firm. The plaintiffs complained that State Farm repaired their vehicles using inferior replacement crash parts rather than original equipment manufacture parts and affirmatively misrepresented the quality of these replacements. The court found the company liable and certified the case as a 48-state class action.
“This case represented an extreme departure from the permissible use of the class action device,” Conrad said. “The improper certification of this case as a class action was responsible for turning Southern Illinois into a class action haven. Hopefully, today’s ruling by the Illinois Supreme Court will signal the end of this long history of exploitation.”
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business federation representing more than three million businesses and organizations of every size, sector, and region.