December 13, 2012
Illinois Continues To Be A Magnet For Lawsuit Abuse According To Newly Released "Judicial Hellholes" Report
I-LAW: Illinois' status as the "Lawsuit Abuse Capital of the Midwest" means jobs are being lost to neighboring states that are passing reforms to make their courts fairer
(Marion, IL) - Illinois has once again secured its place as the "Lawsuit Abuse Capital of the Midwest," according to the annual "Judicial Hellholes" report from the American Tort Reform Foundation (ATRF), a dubious distinction that Illinois Lawsuit Abuse Watch (I-LAW), a grassroots, non-partisan judicial watchdog group says will result in jobs lost in Illinois.
ATRF defines a "Judicial Hellhole" as "a place where judges systematically apply laws and court procedures in an unfair and unbalanced manner." According to the 2012 report, Madison County is ranked as the nation's third-worst "judicial hellhole" and Cook County was placed on the "Watch List," ATRF's second tier of "Judicial Hellholes."
Illinois also was the only state in the Midwest to have multiple counties make it onto the "Judicial Hellholes" rankings, a dubious distinction that will not go unnoticed by employers, says I-LAW Executive Director Travis Akin.
"It is now crystal clear that the 'Land of Lincoln' has been transformed into the 'Land of Lawsuits,'" said Akin. "Being ranked one of the nation's worst 'Judicial Hellholes' is more than just an unwelcome lump of coal in Illinoisans' Christmas stockings - it is a warning to potential new employers that Illinois courts are unfair and unbalanced. Companies look to locate their businesses where the legal system is fair, so we shouldn't expect a business to relocate to a state known widely as a 'Judicial Hellhole.' Everyone in Illinois will pay a price for living in a "lawsuit magnet" and "plaintiffs' paradise."
Illinois has long been viewed as the "Lawsuit Abuse Capital of the Midwest," ranking 46th out of 50 states for legal fairness in a report from the non-partisan Harris Research Company, which also ranked Cook County the nation's worst local jurisdiction for legal fairness and Madison County the sixth-most unfair and unreasonable jurisdiction in the country. Illinois' lawsuit climate ranked beneath every bordering state including: Indiana (14), Iowa (10), Kentucky (38), Missouri (34), and Wisconsin (15).
Yet efforts to pass badly-needed lawsuit reforms that would restore fairness to Illinois courts have been stymied in Springfield the past several years. In contrast, the Wisconsin legislature this year and last year passed comprehensive, meaningful lawsuit reforms that legislators said was designed to make their state more attractive to businesses and lure jobs from Illinois.
"By passing common sense lawsuit reforms, Wisconsin legislators have made their state more attractive to employers," Akin said. "In contrast, Illinois lawmakers have made our state more attractive to personal injury lawyers by failing to follow the actions of our neighbors to our north."
Akin continued, "The upcoming lame duck session of the Legislature is a good opportunity for lawmakers to send a message to job creators that Illinois is serious about job growth," Akin said. "Instead of holding their noses and making deals to vote for controversial bills, lawmakers could do something positive for the Illinois economy by approving badly needed lawsuit reforms. The message is clear: we need to create jobs, not lawsuits."
Illinois' unemployment rate of 8.8 percent is one of the highest rates in the country. Only eight states have a worse unemployment rate than Illinois. According to the study, Creating Conditions for Economic Growth: The Role of the Legal Environment, NERA Economic Consulting released in 2011 for the Institute for Legal Reform, Illinois could save up to $2.4 billion in tort costs and create between 54,000 and 147,000 new jobs by improving its legal environment.
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