The Illinois Trial Lawyers Association is a statewide organization whose members specialize in representing injured consumers and workers. Founded in 1952, the organization has more than 2,000 members.
We believe in, and fight for, our system of checks and balances. Large, deep‐pocket insurance companies and other special interests increasingly dominate our political process. But when these entities act irresponsibly by producing unsafe products, by polluting our environment, or by swindling their employees to pad their profits, Americans rely on our courts to hold them accountable. We ensure all citizens can get fair treatment in the courtroom, even when taking on the most powerful interests. No entity, government official or business should be permitted to use its power – however massive – to infringe upon the right of citizens to have their day in court.
We defend against attacks on the U.S. Constitution’s 7th Amendment and Americans’ right to a trial by jury. It’s often only through our courts that citizens can get equal footing, particularly when taking on insurance companies or other powerful special interests. Sadly, there are those who devote themselves to attacking the constitutional rights and protections that so many Americans sacrificed their lives to secure and defend.
- We strive to achieve and maintain high standards of professional ethics, competency and demeanor in the bench and bar;
- We fight to uphold the Constitutions of the United States of America and the State of Illinois;
- We secure and protect the rights of those injured in their persons or civil rights;
- We defend trial by jury and the adversarial system of justice;
- We promote fair, prompt and efficient administration of justice;
- We educate and train in the art of advocacy.
The majority of court cases, and the ones that consume the greatest resources, are not those brought by individuals against corporations, insurance companies, or doctors. Quite the contrary: most cases are brought by businesses suing each other – the recent Apple vs. Samsung billion-dollar patent case being just one example – or businesses suing individuals, often over debt disputes.
According to the National Center for State Courts, tort cases make up just 5% of the civil caseload nationally, while contract cases – more likely to involve businesses suing businesses – are 10 times more numerous, consuming 51% of the court system’s work.
However, those who are trying to avoid accountability and responsibility have perpetrated the myth that our court system is overburdened – due to plaintiffs’ lawsuits – in order to restrict average citizens’ access to the courts. Tobacco, big oil, pharmaceutical, and insurance companies have invested heavily in front groups who work to demonize the civil justice system. They spend millions each year to wage full-scale disinformation campaigns to create a perception that the judicial system is too plaintiff-friendly and open to abuse. Their hope is to generate negative sentiment about our courts, intimidate judges and prejudice jury pools.
These powerful corporations have banked on the calculation that they will achieve free reign of our civil justice by exerting overwhelming political pressure and continuously executing these devious tactics. At its core, this effort is an attack on our constitutional rights that is every bit as serious as if somebody or something attempted to abridge any of the other rights enshrined in our state or federal Constitution. The right to a jury trial and the right of all American citizens to have free access to, and fair treatment from, the courts that their tax dollars fund, is fundamental to what our nation is all about.
The truth is that wealthy, deep‐pocket special interests don’t fear frivolous lawsuits; they know our justice system filters out suits without merit. What they fear are meritorious lawsuits – actions brought by citizens against those producing unsafe products, polluting our environment, swindling their employees to pad their profits, or otherwise acting irresponsibly.
ITLA fights to keep our civil justice system intact, and fights for your rights to hold wrongdoers accountable.