The following letter to the editor by ITLA President John P. Scanlon was published in the Moline Dispatch on Wednesday, January 10, 2018 and titled “Trial lawyers reject hellhole claim.” It was published in the State Journal-Register on Friday, January 12, 2018 and titled “Illinois’ civil justice system works.”
According to the Annual Report of the Illinois Courts for 2016 civil lawsuit filings continue to drop. Since 2010, the number is down 46 percent. However, Travis Akin and his big business front group continue to spread the myths of “lawsuit abuse.”
Akin’s recent letter to the editor uses an isolated lawsuit regarding the now defunct soda pop tax in Cook County as an anecdotal springboard to make claims he doesn’t have the facts to support.
His group’s deceptively titled “Judicial Hellhole” report is part a decades-long campaign to deny citizens access to the court system that their tax dollars fund. Akin’s allies want to change Illinois law to shield corporations and insurance companies from accountability when their irresponsible behavior results in serious injury or even death.
In truth, the state’s legal climate barely rates as an issue. A recent survey by the National Federation of Independent Business ranked lawsuits 68th of 75 concerns for small businesses. Illinois is very pro-business – the U.S. Department of Commerce places us fifth out of 50 states in Gross Domestic Product.
Illinois’ civil justice system works. Our courts provide a level playing field for individuals to force wrongdoers to make amends – even the wealthiest companies. And, judges already have the authority to toss out lawsuits lacking merit.
Civil lawsuits are critical tool for consumers to remedy potentially widespread abuses by large corporations. They allow citizens to hold companies accountable while deterring future misconduct.
John P. Scanlon, President
Illinois Trial Lawyers Association