“Behind $250 million State Farm settlement, a wild tale of dark money in judicial elections”


The biggest difference between a John Grisham novel and the allegations in a racketeering class action State Farm settled Tuesday for $250 million is that Grisham would have had the insurance company buy off a state Supreme Court candidate with a briefcase full of cash.

By contrast, the amended complaint attached as an exhibit to the State Farm settlement agreement alleges that the insurer installed a hand-picked justice on the Illinois Supreme Court by leveraging its influence over – and financial contributions to – nonprofits like the U.S. Chamber and the Illinois Civil Justice League, which, in turn, pushed Lloyd Karmeier to a seat on the state high court in 2004. The following year, Justice Karmeier sided with four other state justices to overturn a billion-dollar judgment against State Farm. The RICO complaint alleges a quid pro quo between the justice and his insurance-company patrons.

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