Mt. Vernon Register-News

August 5, 2006

Appellate Court throws out class-action suit against Intel


MT. VERNON — The Fifth District Appellate Court last week threw out a class-action lawsuit against microchip giant Intel Corp. that was approved by a Madison County circuit court.

In an 11-page ruling, a three-justice panel found that the case should have been filed in California and that there are not enough connections to Illinois to justify a case here, instead.

Madison County’s court system was heavily criticized in the 2004 Illinois Supreme Court race as a “judicial hellhole” that attracted numerous class-action lawsuits and then awarded huge monetary damages to plaintiffs. Those accusations have been leveled again this year in the race for the open seat of the Fifth District Appellate Court.

In the case of Barbara’s Sales Inc. et al v. Intel and Hewlett-Packard Co., Justice Richard Goldenhersh ruled that the plaintiff’s argument that the Pentium 4 processor is no better than the Pentium III should be filed in California because that’s Intel’s headquarters.

With Justices Melissa Chapman and Terrance Hopkins concurring, the court used a six-point test to render its ruling. It found that, while Intel microprocessing chips are sold in products throughout the 50 states, California has multiple ties to this case not found anywhere else.

California is where the chips are both designed and manufactured, to start, and the marketing strategy to sell the chips — with the claim the chips were far superior to even its own Pentium III — was developed there as well, the court ruled.

“With this in mind, we conclude that California’s interest in the conduct of Intel is the most significant,” read the ruling.

“We find that California has the most significant relationship to the occurrence and to the parties,” wrote the court. “California law, not Illinois law, is applicable. Accordingly, we vacate the order of the circuit court of Madison County regarding class certification.”

The ruling was issued July 25.