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Press Release - March 8, 2011

I-LAW: Illinois should be leading the way for legal reform not falling behind surrounding states

I-LAW says Illinois' lack of legal reform is costing the state jobs

(Marion) - Illinois Lawsuit Abuse Watch today called on the Illinois Legislature to enact meaningful lawsuit reforms as a means of creating new jobs and opportunities in Illinois and retaining existing jobs.

In recent months, governors from surrounding states have made an aggressive pitch to Illinois employers to move to their states. In fact, the Wisconsin Legislature recently approved a variety of legal reforms in a blatant attempt to lure businesses away from Illinois.

"The Wisconsin Legislature has approved sweeping legal reforms to make the state more attractive to prospective employers," said Travis Akin, executive director of Illinois Lawsuit Abuse Watch (I-LAW). "Here in Illinois, we should not let Wisconsin take the lead on legal reform. Enacting legal reforms would send a message to job creators that we are serious about job growth in Illinois and unlike the recent income tax hike - legal reforms won't cost taxpayers one penny."

According to a recent survey by the respected Harris Company, Wisconsin is ranked 22nd in the nation for legal fairness while Illinois is ranked a dismal 45th.

"The legal climate in Wisconsin is far better for job creation than the one in Illinois and yet lawmakers up there are not content with their middle-of-the-pack ranking," Akin said. "Wisconsin lawmakers want to be one of the better states for legal fairness and are actively trying to improve their ranking. Contrast this to Illinois. For years, Illinois has been one of the worst states for legal fairness, but our Legislature has done nothing to improve the state's reputation as a magnet for lawsuit abuse."

One reform on the table is legislation (HB 17) establishing common-sense guidelines on where a civil lawsuit can be filed in Illinois.

"We have to do something to erase our growing reputation as a state hostile to business," Akin said. "Passing legal reforms such as House Bill 17 would be a significant step forward in not only attracting new businesses but also keeping the ones we already have."

Another reform introduced in the Legislature this year is HB 1902, which would make sure that individuals or businesses found liable in a civil suit are paying their fair share of the damages. Thanks to a recent Illinois Supreme Court ruling (Ready v. United/Goedecke Services), defendants can now potentially be on the hook for 100 percent of the damages even if they are only 1 percent at fault.

"Defendants should only have to pay for the portion of the damages they actually caused," Akin said. "The current law of the land allows personal injury lawyers to target the deep pockets in cases involving multiple defendants. House Bill 1902 is an attempt to restore fairness and balance in Illinois courts. It is a common-sense reform the state desperately needs."

To get find out more about how to get involved with the fight to pass HB 17 and HB 1902 or other lawsuit reforms, log onto www.illawsuitabusewatch.org.

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