In May, 2014, Illinois Farmers Insurance Company and its affiliates filed putative class action lawsuits in nine Illinois counties against the City of Chicago and more than 100 surrounding municipalities. Purcell and Wardrope was retained to represent several of the accused municipalities. The suits alleged that each municipality failed to properly prepare for or respond to severe flooding, which occurred in April, 2013. The plaintiffs argued that they incurred extensive damages in the form of claims paid out to their insureds. The plaintiffs delayed service of their complaints while describing their claims to area news media outlets.
Rather than wait for service, we filed appearances for each of our clients and immediately removed two of the actions to federal court in the Northern District of Illinois citing principles of diversity jurisdiction (despite the titles used in the caption, the Farmers Insurance Exchange is based in California) and the Class Action Fairness Act. At the time, none of the municpalities involved in any of the cases had been served. The removal resulted in court deadlines for the plaintiffs and forced them to actively litigate the case. After threatening to file an amended complaint in an attempt to get the cases sent back to the Illinois state courts, the plaintiffs ultimately voluntarily dismissed each and every lawsuit they had filed.