Start an Illinois business, and chances are almost 1 in 3 that you'll either be sued or threatened to be sued. If you're successful in business, those chances increase to 70%.
Still feeling entrepeneurial?
Public Opinion Strategies recently performed a survey among Illinois businesses that showed 15% of those polled had been sued in the last two to three years and still another 18% had been threatened with a lawsuit. Among larger companies the number of sued more than doubled -- 39% had been sued and 31% had been threatened with civil litigation.
When asked to describe their most recent horror stories involving frivolous and expensive lawsuits, several relayed lawsuit experiences and why Illinois needs drastic lawsuit reform.
Check out Institute for Legal Reform's latest findings by clicking on the ad in Illinois Review's right hand column and see some of those stories below . . .
“The issue was that there was a pilot error that caused an accident and it has cost this company quite a bit of money and it will increase our insurance premium. An aircraft crashed two months after we worked on it. The work we did on it wasn’t even related to the accident. We were sued and had to bring in legal counsel to defend us. The whole case is still pending right now. Our insurance company has a million dollar reserve on it and it’s more than likely to affect our premiums going forward. The accident occurred in really bad weather. The pilot should not have been flying the airplane below minimum standards and the aircraft crashed. The NTSB report came out and ruled that pilot error, but you cannot enter that into a court of law.” – Business decision maker in Transportation/Utility/Communications, 250-499 employees
“As far as what impact, it was all financial. As far as what issues or the allegations, the allegations were basically that we had an insurance agency accuse us of trying to take their clients. Obviously, competition is legal. The lawsuit went away, but because of that frivolous lawsuit it actually cost us twelve thousand dollars in legal fees to make it go away because our justice system is so screwed up that it would allow somebody to literally sue someone else for competing for the same business. It should have never been allowed in the first place. That’s why I put it at eighty when you asked me earlier. That’s the same as telling Wal-Mart that they can’t advertise for the same products as Kmart because they’re the same. Because of how screwed up our justice system is I was sued. It cost us twelve thousand dollars in legal fees, because of that exact thing.” – Business decision maker in Financial Services, 3-9 employees
“We are real estate brokers. After we sold one industrial building, we did not get paid for our commission. The owner of the building did not pay us commission. Cooperating broker sued us because they didn’t get the commission from us. But we didn’t get the commission from the owner, so we had no money to pay the commission to the cooperating broker. Cooperating broker means broker who brings the buyer. We are leasing agents. We couldn’t pay the broker who brought the buyer because the owner of the building didn’t pay us. We were sued by this broker who brought the buyer. Impact is we decided that we’re not going to do business with the small business owners. We are going to be just with the big companies with established names. Big companies would not do such a thing. The small business owner sold the building and split the money between two partners and just disappeared into thin air. We can’t get the money from them, but we still have to pay money to the broker who brought the buyer. That was a big loss for us.” – Business decision maker in Service Industry, 3-9 employees
“They had a great deal of impact on my company. Well, it was a contractor that owed us money and a great deal of money and he denied that he did. He finally ended up filing bankruptcy and kind of sticking us for the whole thing. Really nothing. It kind of brings up old memories and I don’t like to say anything about it. It’s done and over with now. We kind of pick up our toys and start all over again. It had a great deal of impact on my company. Cash flow, absolutely. Caution, it has made a lot of other customers reluctant to give out credit so readily.” – Business decision maker in Retail/Wholesale, 3-9 employees
“Most recent issues were probably workers compensation, and it had a financial impact. Workers compensation that someone claims that they had a certain injury due to work, that wasn’t caused by work.
Someone had hurt themselves in an accident in another state and then tried to claim something from work for losing time. We end up paying legal fees and higher rate for workers compensation insurance. So it has a financial impact and a time impact. It costs us time and money. I think they claimed they had some injury with their back or something. When we got an investigator, they were in collusion with some doctor that was signing something. Now the doctor is indicted. There’s a lot of fraud in the system. Not to say that things don’t happen. Certainly you want to pay and try and keep someone healthy and take care of them, but every time you turn there is someone maybe trying to abuse the system.” – Business decision maker in Industrial/Manufacturing, 20-49 employees
“It centered on a fraudulent employee injury and it’s going to cause an increase in our insurance rates or the next three years. Even though it was proven fraudulent, they still sued and the insurance company settled and now we have to pay about thirty percent more for our worker’s comp insurance.” – Business decision maker in Industrial/Manufacturing, 50-99 employees
“The issue revolved around vacation pay…There was no basis in fact. We had an employee that left our employment with a computer, so we sued her in small claims court for the return of the computer. She countersued us for vacation and sick time. It actually came out that we had overpaid her on vacation and sick time.” – Business decision maker in Transportation/Utility/Communications, 3-9 employees
“It was a fight. We’re being sued by the person that was hurt. Five thousand dollars minimum had to go out for a lawyer, and we’re being sued for fifty thousand. That’s a lot of money to put out. We’re broke and can hardly pay the bills.” – Business decision maker in Service Industry, 3-9 employees