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Avery v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co.

Supreme Court of Illinois

August 18, 2005, Opinion Filed

Docket No. 91494

Opinion

 [****457]  [**810]  [*109]    CHIEF JUSTICE McMORROW delivered the opinion of the court:

Michael Avery and other named plaintiffs brought a class action in the circuit court of Williamson County against defendant, State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company (State Farm). Representing a nearly nationwide class of State Farm policyholders, plaintiffs alleged claims sounding in breach of contract and statutory consumer fraud, in addition to a claim seeking declaratory and injunctive relief.

The circuit court certified the class. The breach of contract claim was tried before a jury, and the remaining claims received a simultaneous bench trial. The jury returned a verdict in favor of plaintiffs on the breach of contract claim, and the circuit court entered judgment in favor of plaintiffs on the consumer fraud claim. With regard to the third  [***2]  count, the circuit court granted declaratory relief but declined to grant injunctive relief. The damages awarded to plaintiffs totaled $ 1,186,180,000.

The appellate court affirmed the judgment, with one exception. The appellate court reversed a portion of the damages, lowering the total award to $ 1,056,180,000. 321 Ill. App. 3d 269, 746 N.E.2d 1242, 254 Ill. Dec. 194. We allowed State Farm's petition for leave to appeal. 177 Ill. 2d R. 315(a).

Plaintiffs' suit centers on certain automobile repair part categories which have been identified in the record and to which we refer throughout our discussion. "Crash parts" refers to automobile components that are used to  [*110]  replace parts damaged in a crash, rather than parts that have failed mechanically. They are primarily sheet metal and plastic parts that are attached to the outer shell of the car. Crash parts consist of two categories. The first category is comprised of new parts made by or on behalf of the automobile's original manufacturer. These parts are commonly referred to as "Original Equipment Manufacturer" parts, or "OEM" crash parts. The second class includes  [****458]   [**811]  aftermarket parts made by companies not affiliated with original equipment manufacturers.  [***3]  These parts are referred to as "non-OEM" crash parts. 1

A succinct general overview of plaintiffs' theory of the case may be found in "Plaintiff's Memorandum in Support of Application of Illinois Law to the Claims of Class Members Under Illinois  [***4]  Choice of Law Doctrine":

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216 Ill. 2d 100 *; 835 N.E.2d 801 **; 2005 Ill. LEXIS 959 ***; 296 Ill. Dec. 448 ****

MICHAEL AVERY et al., Appellees, v. STATE FARM MUTUAL AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE COMPANY, Appellant.

Subsequent History: Rehearing denied by Avery v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 2005 Ill. LEXIS 970 (Ill., Sept. 26, 2005)

US Supreme Court certiorari denied by Avery v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 547 U.S. 1003, 126 S. Ct. 1470, 164 L. Ed. 2d 248, 2006 U.S. LEXIS 2047 (2006)

Related proceeding at Hale v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 44270 (S.D. Ill., Mar. 28, 2013)

Prior History: Appeal from the Appellate Court for the Fifth District.

Avery v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 321 Ill. App. 3d 269, 746 N.E.2d 1242, 2001 Ill. App. LEXIS 249, 254 Ill. Dec. 194 (Ill. App. Ct. 5th Dist., 2001)

Disposition: The portion of the circuit court's judgment which denied the policyholders' request for equitable relief was affirmed. All other portions of the circuit court's judgment were reversed. Those portions of the appellate court judgment which affirmed the denial of equitable relief and which reversed the circuit court's award of disgorgement damages were affirmed. All other portions of the appellate court's judgment were reversed.

CORE TERMS

non-OEM, consumer fraud, plaintiffs', damages, like kind, repair, pre-loss, circuit court, policies, policyholders, estimate, appellate court, promise, installation, specification, restore, inferior, insured, slip opinion, crash, class member, class action, replacement part, deception, replace, contractual obligation, breach of contract, the Act, manufacturer, brochure

Civil Procedure, Class Actions, Prerequisites for Class Action, General Overview, Appeals, Standards of Review, Abuse of Discretion, Special Proceedings, Judicial Discretion, Contracts Law, Contract Interpretation, Breach, Breach of Contract Actions, Remedies, Damages, Constitutional Law, Substantive Due Process, Scope, Fundamental Rights, Procedural Due Process, Scope of Protection, Evidence, Testimony, Expert Witnesses, Torts, Business Torts, Fraud & Misrepresentation, Antitrust & Trade Law, Consumer Protection, Deceptive & Unfair Trade Practices, Case or Controversy, Constitutional Questions, Causation, Proximate Cause, Governments, Legislation, Interpretation, Courts, Judicial Precedent, Burdens of Proof, Insurance Law, Coverage, Property, Motor Vehicle Insurance, Obligations