To the Editor:
Just as leaves fall from the trees in October, we can count on a well-funded front group for tobacco, big oil, insurance and pharmaceutical companies each year at this time to regurgitate the fiction that lawsuits are responsible for deterring business and driving unemployment.
Travis Akin, the face of front group I-LAW, relies on bogus studies and widely debunked claims. He fails to mention the fact that more than 70 percent of lawsuits are filed by businesses – his very own financial supporters – suing other businesses for money. Akin also conveniently ignores the fact that injury cases make up just 6 percent of all lawsuits.
Another conveniently overlooked fact is that the number of civil cases filed in Illinois courts has been steadily declining – it’s down 26 percent since 2007. The number of medical malpractice cases also has been on a steady decline, down nearly 40 percent since 2003.
I-LAW promotes the myth that our civil justice system is hindering the state’s economy, but the truth is that lawsuits ranked 71st on a list of the 75 chief concerns of small businesses, according to a recent survey by the National Federation of Independent Business. Taxes, energy prices, and the cost of labor are far more important factors for a company deciding where to locate.
What’s truly behind I-LAW’s repeated protestations? I-LAW’s backers value profits over protecting people from serious injury or death; when such injury or death results from their own negligence or wrongdoing, they would prefer to avoid accountability and responsibility. So they try to frighten citizens into giving up their constitutional right to hold negligent drivers, polluters, careless professionals and reckless manufacturers responsible for their dangerous actions. This latest push from I-LAW is, sadly, only the latest manifestation of that stale, fact-free and malicious campaign.
President, Illinois Trial Lawyers Association