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I have been patiently waiting for Avery to be decided.  This morning the Illinois Supreme Court  made my day and likely made State Farm and its policy holders happier. Its been a long wait for all as the Illinois Court of Appeals upheld the trial court’s determination in the plaintiff’s favor way back in April of 2001.  While Ted Frank has given us the bottom line, let’s look at some of the nuggets contained in the single spaced 72 page opinion (including concurrences and dissents). 

*The trial court certified a class action based on different contracts in different states.

*The trial court certified a class action based on potentially radically different damages as each car’s loss would be different. In fact, one of the named plaintiffs arguably suffered no loss as he sold his truck (after the accident) to a brother-in-law for almost its Blue Book value.  (I wish I could do that!)

*The trial court applied Illinois law to contracts with no connection to Illinois and didn’t seem to care whether the trial court’s interpretation could, in fact, conflict with other state’s insurance law and regulation.

*The plaintiffs never proved (nor did they attempt) to prove that any of the replacement parts were defective.  This would have increased their burden (and costs) dramatically, so they just tried to convince the court that replacement parts are per se categorically inferior to OEM parts.

This is the best one: 

*The plaintiff’s damage expert (a Dr. Iqbal Mathur) admitted on the stand that his damage theory made no economic sense.  One would think that there would have been some judicial notice of this particular fact by the trial court.

What is interesting is that this case really wasn’t about defective parts (at least according to the majority opinion). If, in fact, the parts are not up to par then there is still room for a proper lawsuit on that  issue. However, the jurisdictional over reaching and lack of comity is what is most bothersome about this case. Further, while insurers, are supposed to be regulated by the states, one state (whether Illinois or New York) should not be able to impose its regulation to other states. 




Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.