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A law professor has lost an appeal in his lawsuit against Geico General Insurance Co. because he gave away a key piece of evidence — his car — before it could be examined in the case. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit ruled on Jan. 10 that Steven Greenberger, an associate professor at DePaul University College of Law in Chicago, could not go forward with his lawsuit, which sought class-action status, against Geico. The professor claimed breach of contract and fraud against the insurer for its alleged failure to restore his 1994 Acura to its pre-collision status. “Greenberger gave away his car, and without it, he cannot prove that what Geico paid him was inadequate to restore the car to its pre-loss condition,” the court wrote. Greenberger could not be reached for comment. In 2002, Greenberger’s car sustained damaged to its bumper, suspension and other parts in an accident. As insurance adjuster a day after the incident wrote Greenberger a check for $3,285, which he cashed but did not use to make the repairs. A few months later, the professor permitted a prospective buyer to take the car to a body shop to obtain an estimate for repairs. The shop said that the repairs would cost about $4,940. The sale didn’t go through and Greenberger soon after gave the car to charity. His lawsuit alleged that Geico systematically omitted necessary repairs from its collision-damage estimates in violation of its statutory and common law duties. A trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Geico. The appeals court found that a “comprehensive decision” in a 2005 Illinois Supreme Court case, Avery v. State Farm, precluded all of Greenberger’s claims. “Among other important holdings, Avery established the common-sense proposition that a policyholder’s suit against his insurer for breach of its promise to restore his collision-damaged car to its pre-loss condition cannot succeed without an examination of the car,” the court found. Before joining DePaul, Greenberger was a litigator with Irell & Manella in Los Angeles. Leigh Jones can be contacted at [email protected].

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