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Press Release - August 21, 2012

New Poll Shows Majority Of Voters Think Litigation Hurts Economy And Are More Likely To Support Pro-Lawsuit Reform Candidates

I-LAW says poll reinforces the need for Illinois voters to find out where candidates stand on lawsuit reform

(Marion, IL) - A newly released poll from the American Tort Reform Association and the grassroots Sick of Lawsuits campaign shows a majority of voters believe lawsuits hurt economic growth.

According to the poll, 89 percent of American voters call lawsuit abuse a "problem," - a view that cuts across party lines as 94 percent of Republicans, 89 percent of Independents and 86 percent of Democrats all say it's a problem. Illinois Lawsuit Abuse Watch Executive Director Travis Akin said voters of all political stripes seem to understand the problems that exist in our legal system.

"Clearly, voters understand that we have a litigation problem," Akin said. "Now it is time to do something about it. Voters going to the polls in November need to make sure the people seeking office support needed lawsuit reforms."

While voters all across the country seem to understand that lawsuit abuse is a problem, Akin said lawsuit abuse is not evenly spread across the country. Illinois is ranked the 6th worst state for legal fairness according to a report from the respected Harris polling company. Other Midwest states such as Wisconsin and Minnesota have improved their legal climates by approving legal reforms, but Illinois lawmakers continue to ignore the state's litigation problems.

"Acknowledging we have a litigation problem is only the first step," Akin said. "Voters in places like Illinois have to do more than just admit that lawsuit abuse is an important issue. They have to hold their elected leaders accountable. Other Midwest states have taken steps to improve their legal climate as a means of attracting new jobs and opportunities. Voters need to take a stand and make sure the people representing them share their concerns about the abuse of our courts."

Akin said voters need to also look beyond legislative races and to make sure to cast informed votes in upcoming judicial elections.

"Good judges do matter," Akin said. "Voters need to educate themselves about who is on the ballot in judicial races and cast informed votes. If we are going to improve Illinois' legal environment, then it is imperative we have judges who are willing to put an end to the abuses we see so often in certain judicial districts here in Illinois."

Other key findings from the poll:

  • 78 percent believe there are too many lawsuits in the U.S.
  • 60 percent believe lawsuits filed against businesses have hurt the U.S. economy
  • 88 percent want safeguards put in place to protect small businesses from groundless lawsuits that could put them out of business
  • 72 percent believe "Our country's liability lawsuit system makes it harder for employers to do business and succeed."
  • 73 percent are more likely to vote for a candidate for public office who supports lawsuit-reducing liability reforms
  • 78 percent agree "Enacting lawsuit reform is an important part of improving the U.S. business environment and attracting and keeping jobs."

"There is strong support for lawsuit reform all across the country," Akin said. "It is time lawmakers in Springfield received this message. Voters understand that there is a correlation between the abuse of our nation's legal system and the ability of small business owners to do business and succeed. Nearly 80 percent of the respondents understand that enacting lawsuit reform is an important part of improving the economy in the country. But if voters do not let their voices be heard - then lawmakers will continue to ignore the litigation problem and Illinois will continue to struggle to attract new jobs and opportunities."

Akin said the poll results are consistent with what he has heard from people as he has traveled the state talking about the need for Illinois to "Create Jobs, Lawsuits."

"People get it," Akin said. "They may never have been sued but they understand that if Illinois is going to get on the right track economically - lawmakers need to enact meaningful lawsuit reforms sooner rather than later."

The poll results are based on a national telephone survey of 1,013 U.S. registered voters conducted by Luce Research from July 11-19, 2012. The interviews included both landline and mobile telephone numbers. The data were weighted by age, ethnicity and region to ensure a representative sampling of voters by all demographics, including gender, education and party identification. The sampling error for this study is 3.1 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence interval. The survey was commissioned by the American Tort Reform Association and Sick of Lawsuits.

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