SPRINGFIELD – It's really not news. It's an ongoing story that Illinois continues to be a magnet for lawsuit abuse and remains home to three of the nation’s worst “judicial hellholes.”
At least that's what the annual “Judicial Hellholes” report released Thursday by the American Tort Reform Foundation says.
The survey shows that “Christmas comes but once a year for most of us, but for the personal injury lawyers who have turned Illinois courthouses into their own personally profitable playground, it’s Christmas every day,” said Travis Akin of Illinois Lawsuit Abuse Watch (I-LAW).
The report named Illinois counties of Cook, Madison and St. Clair among the “Top Ten Worst Judicial Hellholes” in the country and added a fourth - McLean County – to the “Judicial Hellholes Watch List.” It defines a “judicial hellhole” as “a place where judges systematically apply laws and court procedures in an unfair and unbalanced manner.”
That is especially true of Cook, Madison and St. Clair Counties, explained Akin, executive director of Illinois Lawsuit Abuse Watch (I-LAW), a non-partisan, grassroots legal watchdog group.
“Christmas comes but once a year for most of us, but for the personal injury lawyers who have turned Illinois courthouses into their own personally profitable playground, it’s Christmas every day,” said Akin.
“For far too long, Illinois has been a magnet for personal injury lawyers and plaintiffs from all over the country who clog our courts with junk lawsuits that have nothing to do with Illinois, all in the hopes of striking it rich playing our state’s plaintiff-friendly lawsuit lottery. Greedy personal injury lawyers have turned the ‘Land of Lincoln’ into the ‘Land of Lawsuits,’ and that is hurting job creation efforts throughout Illinois.”
Governor Bruce Rauner has proposed lawsuit reform legislation that includes a proposal that will stop personal injury lawyers from shopping around for the friendliest court jurisdiction, even if the lawsuit has nothing to do with that jurisdiction. This practice, often called “venue shopping,” is all too common in Madison, St. Clair and Cook Counties, according to the “Judicial Hellholes” report.
“We need to create jobs in Illinois, not more lawsuits, which is why I-LAW applauds Governor Rauner for taking the lead to weed out junk lawsuits here and restore fairness to our courts. Governor Rauner’s reasonable, common sense lawsuit reforms will create jobs and unclog our courts, which will speed the legal process for those with legitimate claims.”
Madison County has become the favorite destination for personal injury lawyers filing asbestos-related lawsuits, almost always on behalf of out-of-state plaintiffs. According to the report, “Illinois residents filed only 75 of Madison County’s 1,224 asbestos cases in 2015. Just six of the claims were filed on behalf of Madison County residents, comprising a mere half-percent of the court’s asbestos docket. The rest were litigation tourists from around the country, seeking an advantage over defendants in this plaintiff-friendly court.”
Akin concluded, “Illinoisans should contact their legislators and ask them if they will stand with the personal injury lawyers, who are the only ones who profit from this unfair system, or the small businesses and individual citizens who are far too frequently targets of unfair frivolous lawsuits and are made to pay for personal injury lawyer greed. We need to stop the personal injury lawyers from gaming the system at our expense. By standing up to the personal injury lawyers and passing common sense lawsuit reforms, legislators will restore fairness to Illinois courts, stop lawsuit abuse, create jobs, and put money back in consumers’ pockets.”
For more information on the “Judicial Hellholes” report and I-LAW’s efforts to restore common sense and fairness to Illinois courts, visit I-LAW’s website at www.ILLawsuitAbuseWatch.org.