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Hopkins v. State

March 28, 2006

GLENN J. HOPKINS, D/B/A GALAXY INNOVATIVE TECHNOLOGIES, ON BEHALF OF SELF AND OTHERS SO SITUATED, PLAINTIFF,
v.
THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, SECRETARY OF STATE OF ILLINOIS JESSE WHITE, STATE FARM MUTUAL AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE COMPANY, ESTATE OF LEROY NEFF, BY EXECUTOR NANCY HOSTICK, AND UNKNOWN OTHERS IN THE BUSINESS OF INSURANCE, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Richard Mills, U.S. District Judge

OPINION

This case is before the Court on Defendant State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company's motion to dismiss Count VII [d/e 4], State Farm's motion to dismiss Counts IV, VIII, IX and X [d/e 6], Defendant Secretary of State Jesse White's motion to dismiss [d/e 9] and State Farm's motion for sanctions [d/e 14].*fn1

Plaintiff Glenn J. Hopkins has asserted several claims against various Defendants. The Defendants he has named include The State of Illinois, Secretary of State Jesse White, State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company, The Estate of Leroy Neff by Executor Nancy Hostick, and unknown others in the business of insurance.

The Plaintiff alleges the following facts. While doing business as Galaxy Innovative Technology, the Plaintiff commenced research and development of the Electronic Fuel Injection Fuel Preheater in May 2000. A patent application for that device was filed with the United States Patent Office in January 2001. This product would be of substantial benefit to all United States consumers.

The Plaintiff alleges that in May 2000, State Farm denied him access to insurance coverage so as to discourage the testing, development and marketing of the device "under color of the Mandatory Automobile Insurance Act." Moreover, State Farm declared an intent to deny any consumers access to insurance services if they were found to have purchased the product.

The Plaintiff alleges that following May 2000, State Farm began collaborating with unknown other insurance companies in order to deny the Plaintiff access to insurance because of the Electronic Fuel Injection Preheater. The Plaintiff further asserts that State Farm and other unknown insurance companies invoked the Illinois Secretary of State in order to classify him as high risk, with the associated increase in rates, so as to cripple his business interests and intimidate and discourage potential investors, banks and loan institutions from investing in Galaxy Innovative Technology. On this basis, the Plaintiff alleges that State Farm used "State power for interfering with and suppressing Plaintiff's capacity to engage in commerce in violation of the consumer Fraud and Deceptive business practice Act." The Plaintiff further alleges that these actions of State Farm and other insurance companies were taken to protect oil company investments.

On June 11, 2002, the Plaintiff was involved in a motor vehicle accident on Washington Street adjacent to and on the East side of Veterans Parkway in Springfield, Illinois. Leroy Neff was the driver of the 1993 Pontiac Grand Am that was westbound on West Washington that struck the rear of the Plaintiff's motor vehicle, a 1983 Ford Thunderbird, which was stopped with other vehicles at the intersection. Neff was insured by State Farm.

The Plaintiff alleges that he was subsequently cited by the State of Illinois for not having insurance, in violation of 625 ILCS 3-707. He asserts that he was fined $600.00 and his license was suspended for one year for operation of an uninsured vehicle. The Plaintiff further contends that he has since been "denied ownership of a motor vehicle by the State of Illinois for use as transportation and/or testing of company product, destroying his capacity to engage in commerce, when there was no actual effect whatsoever as to the cause of this accident based on Plaintiff's lack of insurance."

In Count I, the Plaintiff purports to allege that the State of Illinois has unlawfully, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983, overreached its power to regulate interstate and intrastate commerce under color of 625 ILCS 3/707 of the Illinois Insurance Code. The Plaintiff asks the Court to declare that state law unconstitutional "under the Commerce Clause" in violation of § 1983.

Count II purports to allege claims against the Secretary of State; the Plaintiff asserts that White has unlawfully overreached the State's limited power to regulate interstate and intrastate commerce, pursuant to § 1983 and 625 ILCS 3/707. The Plaintiff asks that the Court prohibit the Secretary of State's enforcement of the state law.*fn2

Count III is also directed at the Secretary of State. The Plaintiff repeats the previous allegations and asserts that White has caused unnecessary harm and injury to the Plaintiff as a disabled person and to others similarly situated, in violation of Titles II and III of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Count IV is directed at State Farm. The legal theories asserted are not entirely clear. The Plaintiff contends that Defendant "intentionally breach[ed] the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing required of Defendant in its commerce transactions with disabled consumers and small businesses arising from motor vehicle accidents involving their insured, causing unnecessary harm and damage to Plaintiff as a disabled small business owner." The Plaintiff contends that State Farm employed acts of intimidation, fraud and coercion as a negotiating tactic, which resulted in his having to surrender his vehicle. The Plaintiff also seems to allege that State Farm violated § 1983 by engaging in unfair business practices.

Count VII is also directed at State Farm.*fn3 The Plaintiff alleges that State Farm intentionally breached its duty in its transactions with disabled customers and small businesses "arising from motor vehicle accidents involving their insured, causing unnecessary harm and damage to Plaintiff as a disabled small business owner and consumer," in violation of 215 ILCS 5/154.6(c), (d) and (r).

Count VIII is also directed at State Farm. The Plaintiff alleges that State Farm failed to accommodate him as a disabled consumer, in violation of the ADA, "which constitutes an act in violation of the consumer Fraud and Deceptive business practices Act." The allegations in Count IX appear to be identical to those in Count VIII.

Count X is also directed at State Farm. The Plaintiff alleges that State Farm unlawfully entered into a collaboration or conspiracy with other businesses engaged in the business of insurance with the intent to restrain and otherwise interfere with Galaxy Innovative Technology, thereby impeding the Plaintiff from "engaging in interstate and international commerce by the use of boycotts, intimidation, and unfair trade practices in violation of the Sherman Anti Trust Act."

Count XI is directed at the Estate of Leroy Neff.*fn4 The Plaintiff alleges that Neff negligently operated a motor vehicle on a public roadway and caused an injury to the Plaintiff's person, property and business interests.

State Farm has moved to dismiss Count VII, asserting that Illinois does not recognize a common law tort action for "bad faith" in negotiations between adversarial third parties and insurance companies. Consequently, State Farm contends that there exists no private remedy or cause of action under the Illinois Insurance Code, as alleged by the Plaintiff in Count VII.

State Farm has also moved to dismiss Counts IV, VIII, IX and X. It contends that Count IV should be dismissed because the Plaintiff has failed to set forth the necessary elements to establish any of his claims. As for his § 1983 claim in Count IV, the Plaintiff has not alleged the deprivation of any federal right or that the Defendant was acting under color of state law or as a state actor. Moreover, the Defendant's allegation of common law bad faith is not supported by factual allegations. State Farm contends such a claim is also preempted by state law under 215 ILCS 5/155.

State Farm notes that Counts VIII and IX are identical with each other, except for the prayer for relief. State Farm claims that the Plaintiff alleges an ADA violation and seeks money damages for the alleged violation contrary to the statute and case law. Moreover, Section 155 of the Illinois Insurance Code (215 ILCS 5/155) further preempts actions under the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Trade Practices Act (815 ILCS 505/2).

Finally, State Farm alleges that the Plaintiff's claim in Count X under the Sherman Anti-Trust Act has already been rejected by the Court.

III. ANALYSIS

A. Legal ...


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