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Madison County case study: Grinnell Select Insurance Company v. Baker

Sometimes I'm challenged when I suggest that Madison County, Illinois is a "judicial hellhole" that treats corporate defendants differently than the vast majority of American court systems. It's worth reading the Seventh Circuit decision of Grinnell Select Ins. Co. v. Martha Baker (Apr. 5, 2004). There, the court was asked to apply Illinois law to a diversity case involving the interpretation of the "anti-stacking" provision of an insurance contract. Though the policy language was clear, the task was made trickier because the Fifth District Appellate Court of Illinois--the appellate court for Madison County and much of southern Illinois--had issued two decisions that contradicted Illinois Supreme Court decisions in an effort to read anti-stacking provisions out of the policy. The "Fifth District stands alone among the 50 state judicial systems," and the Seventh Circuit, predicting that the Illinois Supreme Court would uphold the provisions, applied Erie and did the same. But had the case not been removed to federal court, the result might well have been different, if the Illinois Supreme Court failed to step in.



Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.