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Nearly four years ago, the Illinois Supreme Court dealt what many perceived to be a fatal blow to a wave of putative class actions concerning automobile insurers’ specification of non-original equipment manufacturer parts in the repair of motor vehicles. In Avery v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 835 N.E.2d 801 (Ill. 2005), the Illinois Supreme Court overturned a verdict of more than $1.1 billion in a national class action challenging State Farm’s practice of specifying non-OEM parts that were purportedly “categorically inferior” to OEM parts. In vacating this verdict, the Illinois Supreme Court held that the mere specification of non-OEM parts in a repair estimate was insufficient to establish liability for breach of a contractual promise to use “like kind and quality” parts, absent evidence that non-OEM parts were actually used in the repair of the vehicle, and that such parts failed to restore the vehicle to its pre-loss condition. The court further noted that the determination of these issues would require an individual analysis of each vehicle, making class certification entirely impracticable.

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