Madison County, well known as favorite destination for out of state personal injury lawyers and plaintiffs looking to cash in playing the lawsuit lottery, has cemented its status as the “Lawsuit Abuse Capital of the U.S.” by being named to a list of the “Top Five Worst Judicial Hellholes” in the country.
The annual report on the nation’s worst Judicial Hellholes comes from the American Tort Reform Foundation, which defines a judicial hellhole as “a place where judges systematically apply laws and court procedures in an unfair and unbalanced manner.”
That statement is especially true of Madison County.
Personal injury lawyers continue to target Metro-East courts with frivolous lawsuits filed on behalf of out-of-state plaintiffs, and far too often judges here allow cases to proceed with plaintiffs who have no connection to the Metro-East. This kind of abuse clogs Metro-East courts, wasting taxpayer resources and delaying justice for people with legitimate claims.
Madison County has become the favorite destination for personal injury lawyers filing asbestos-related lawsuits, almost always on behalf of out-of-state plaintiffs. Specifically:
· Only 1 in 10 of the lawsuits filed in Madison County is filed by a plaintiff who ever worked or lived in the county.
· Statistics show the problem is getting worse: In 2006, asbestos filings in Madison County reached a low point of 325. Since then, the number of asbestos filings has increased each year to 455 in 2007, 639 in 2008, 814 in 2009, 840 in 2010, 953 in 2011 and 1,563 in 2012 and a new record of 1,678 in 2013.
· Despite having only .08 % of the U.S. population, Madison County now accounts for one in four asbestos lawsuits filed in the U.S.
Now, even more asbestos lawsuits could be filed in Madison County as a result of surprise legislation pushed by the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association in the 11th hour of the recently concluded fall veto session of the Illinois General Assembly. The legislation (SB 2221) eliminates the state's 10-year "statute of repose" on the exposure to asbestos on building sites during construction projects, which means lawsuits arising from asbestos exposure at construction sites will have no time restrictions.