Madison County is no stranger to the proliferation and exploitation of asbestos litigation. After all, about 25 percent of the nation’s asbestos litigation is filed in Madison County.
Earlier this month, there were 209 asbestos cases set to go to trial in Madison County and yet only four plaintiffs, or 2 percent, of the total number of plaintiffs were from Madison County.
Asbestos litigation continues to be a big reason why Madison County is ranked the fifth-worst “Judicial Hellhole” in the country. According to the 2015 “Judicial Hellholes” report from the American Tort Reform Foundation, “roughly 90 percent of plaintiffs who file in Madison County come from outside Illinois. They drag with them scores of defendants they name in each lawsuit, hoping enough of those defendants will settle out of court and thus help sustain the lawsuit industry’s asbestos business model.”
The abuse of asbestos litigation is hardly just a Madison County phenomenon. Just recently the former Speaker of the New York Assembly was indicted for exchanging state research funds for asbestos client referrals to his law firm.
The American Tort Reform Association has launched a new website, www.asbestoslitigationwatch.org dedicated to highlighting the abuse of asbestos litigation all across the country.
Yes, men and women who have had to endure the pain and suffering that results from mesothelioma should absolutely be made whole. That is a given. To help ensure victims of mesothelioma are made whole, $35 billion has been placed in asbestos trusts to give these individuals and their loved ones the justice they deserve.
But the greed and abuse of our court system have made it difficult for future claimants to be made whole. Greedy personal injury lawyers have been gaming the system for many years. They claim to be the voice of the people and yet they are pocketing millions of dollars as they take up to 40 percent of the compensation for the injured.
Many states are working to reform our nation’s laws to roll back the abuse of our court system, but more work has to be done. This is where AsbestosLitigationWatch.org can help. Illinois Lawsuit Abuse Watch encourages Madison County residents to take a look at the new website and see how asbestos litigation is being abused in Madison County and throughout the nation and learn what can be done to turn the tide.
The time for reform is now. Change can only come if citizens take the time to not only be informed but to also act. ATRA’s new website will help inform but ultimately it is up to us to act. Let’s stand together and make Madison County known as a leader in reform – not the nation’s most prolific asbestos docket in the country.
Travis Akin is Executive Director of Illinois Lawsuit Abuse Watch.