MARION, IL – Illinois has once again secured its place as the “Lawsuit Abuse Capital of the Midwest” and is home to three “judicial hellholes” according to the annual “Judicial Hellholes” report released today by the American Tort Reform Foundation (ATRF).
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 2013 report, Madison and St. Clair Counties are ranked jointly as the nation’s fifth-worst “judicial hellhole,” while Cook County was placed on the “Watch List,” ATRF’s second tier of “judicial hellholes,” which the group defines as “jurisdictions that bear watching due to their histories of abusive litigation and which run the risk of dropping into the hellholes abyss.”
Travis Akin, Executive Director of Illinois Lawsuit Abuse Watch (I-LAW), a non-partisan, grassroots legal watchdog, commented, “Illinois’ status as one of the country’s worst ‘judicial hellholes’ makes it difficult to attract badly-needed jobs and opportunities to our state, because businesses look to move to places where the legal system is fair, and having one the most unfair lawsuit climates in the country is clearly keeping businesses and the jobs they bring from moving to Illinois.”
Akin continued, “We have a broken court system in Illinois that is creating lawsuits, not jobs. Judges here need to take steps to restore fairness and common sense to our courts so we can begin to create jobs, not lawsuits.”
Illinois has long been viewed as “personal injury lawyer’s playground” and was ranked 46th out of 50 states for legal fairness in a recent report from the non-partisan Harris Research Company. 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 recently 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.”
Illinois’ unemployment rate of 8.9 percent is the fourth highest rate in the country. According to the study “Creating Conditions for Economic Growth: The Role of the Legal Environment” which 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.
Akin concluded, “The news that Illinois is one of the nation’s worst ‘judicial hellholes’ is not the Christmas gift Illinoisans were hoping to receive,” lamented Akin. “By swamping our courts with cases that have little to nothing to do with Illinois and sinking our courts deeper into a judicial hellhole, personal injury lawyers have put a lump of coal in all Illinoisans’ stockings this holiday season. The people of Illinois will continue to suffer until judges here work to restore fairness and common sense to our courts.”
For more information on the “Judicial Hellholes” report and the recent I-LAW report, as well as I-LAW’s efforts to restore common sense and fairness to Illinois courts, visit I-LAW’s website at www.ILLawsuitAbuseWatch.org.