The following letter to the editor by ITLA President Antonio M. Romanucci was published in the Belleville News-Democrat on Monday, December 16, 2019.
ATRA hurts legal system
It’s time again for the American Tort Reform Association (ATRA) to roll out its recycled “report” to stoke prejudice and fear of our state’s legal system. ATRA’s annual publicity stunt demeans the U.S. Constitution and attacks citizens’ Seventh Amendment right to trial by jury.
ATRA is a well-funded front group for the nation’s wealthiest corporations which work to undermine the independence of courts to help corporate interests avoid responsibility for their dangerous behavior and reckless actions. The deceptively titled “Hellholes” report is part of its ongoing campaign to deny access to the court system that our tax dollars fund.
ATRA’s allies want to change Illinois law to shield corporations and insurance companies from accountability when their irresponsible behavior results in the serious injury, or even death, of innocent people. ATRA wants to shift the responsibility of paying to care for those sickened or injured away from the companies that caused the harm and onto the backs of taxpayers.
The fact is civil lawsuits filed in Illinois have been dropping since 2010, down 47 percent. The number of medical malpractice cases is down 32 percent since 2003.
Illinois’ courts are fair and provide an avenue for people of ordinary means who are victims of wrongdoing to hold perpetrators accountable. They serve as a powerful deterrent against corporate misconduct and that’s precisely why ATRA is so determined to shut down the ability of individuals to access them for help.
The real “judicial hellhole” that this group and its deep-pocketed funders are trying to create is a court system in which those who have suffered serious or catastrophic injuries have little chance for justice because their rights have been stripped away.
Antonio M. Romanucci
President, Illinois Trial Lawyers Association