Marion Mayor Robert Butler and West Frankfort Mayor Marion Presley joined other mayors from throughout Southern Illinois in recognizing the work of Illinois Lawsuit Abuse Watch(I-LAW).
Travis Akin, Executive Director of I-LAW, cited a recent report from the Harris Company that ranked Illinois 46th out of all 50 states for legal fairness as one reason why job creation opportunities are limited in Illinois.
“Numerous studies are telling us that Illinois has become a magnet for lawsuits and out-of-state personal injury lawyers,” Akin said. “And that has given Illinois the title of ‘Lawsuit Capital of the Midwest.’ When employers see that Illinois is a magnet for lawsuit abuse, they think twice before relocating or expanding here. Why would employers want to move to a state where they’re much more likely to be targeted with a junk lawsuit than in any other state in the region?”
Mayor Presley and West Frankfort have felt the impact of these types of lawsuits.
“We see unnecessary lawsuits all of the time at the municipal level,” Presley said. “The taxpayers need to know about this problem because it is their money being used to fight excessive and frivolous litigation at the city level. In most cases, the least expensive course is to reach a settlement even when we know the city is in the right. This is just the reality we have to face. As a mayor and a taxpayer myself, I hate to see tax dollars wasted like this.”
In addition to the Harris Company report ranking Illinois fifth-worst in the country for lawsuit abuse, a report from the Pacific Research Institute ranks Illinois in the bottom four for tort costs and tort laws, while Directorship magazine ranks Illinois’ litigation climate dead last.
A report released earlier this year by Tillinghast-Perrin found that every person in Illinois pays an extra $825 per year in higher prices just to cover the cost of frivolous, excessive litigation.
“Obviously, there is a serious lawsuit abuse problem in Illinois,” Butler said. ” But the good news is that there is an organization trying to do something about it. The grassroots efforts of I-LAW are working to help inform citizens about the importance of this issue and I commend the organization for its hard work in exposing a very serious problem in Illinois.”
Akin suggested that with election time near, now would be the time to question candidates.
“With elections right around the corner, voters should ask their legislative candidates if they will support legislation that will restore common sense and fairness to our courts by restricting where a lawsuit can be filed,” Akin said. “Passing a venue reform bill such as this will stop Illinois from continuing to be a powerful lawsuit magnet.”