Pastor v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Ins. Co., 487 F.3d 1042 (7th Cir. 2007)

Step 1: Break windshield.

Step 2: Repair windshield.

Step 3: File claim with insurer.

Step 4: Sue insurer on behalf of class because the insurer did not pay $10 that you are owed by virtue of a clause in the insurance policy that obliges insurer to pay you $10 per day if you do not rent a car while your car is not usable.

At least this is the method Carol Pastor decided to follow almost 10 years after a car accident that originally damaged her window. 

In Pastor v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Ins. Co., 487 F.3d 1042 (7th Cir. 2007), the court heard an appeal challenging the denial of class certification. Pastor damaged her windshield in a car accident. She repaired the windshield (which took about an hour at a repair shop) and filed a claim with State Farm. Pastor was paid on the claim. 

Almost 10 years later, Pastor sued State Farm on behalf of herself and all similar policy holders because the company failed to voluntarily pay $10 to her while her car was out of commission. The district court denied class certification. After accepting an offer of judgment, Pastor appealed.

The 7th Circuit determined that it would be reasonably likely that the suit meets CAFA requirements of $5 million minimum in controversy based on the sheer number of policy holders. However, the court could not muster the “picture of a federal judge presiding over thousands of evidentiary hearings each involving a trivial amount of money.”  

Ultimately, the court decided that when a “separate evidentiary hearing is required for each class member’s claim, the aggregate expense may, if each claim is very small, swamp the benefit of class-action treatment.” Class certification was denied.