Legal reformers want to derail lawsuit lending bill

Chris Rizo Apr. 14, 2010, 11:31am



SPRINGFIELD (Legal Newsline)—Legal reformers in Illinois say they are counting on the state House of Representatives to quash a bill they say would help trial lawyers file more lawsuits.

The Illinois Civil Justice League (ICJL) is railing against Senate Bill 3322, which would legitimize the practice of loaning money to help people file lawsuits over alleged wrongdoing.

The group's president, Ed Murnane, said he fears that if enacted the bill will encourage trial lawyers to file more lawsuits.

While mindful of the constitutional right to bring grievances to a courtroom, Murnane said the Illinois Civil Justice League "is not in favor of encouraging litigation." He said the state already ranks 45th in the nation for legal fairness, according to an annual survey of in-house corporate counsel and executives around the nation.

Murnane said the Democrat-drafted bill could also lead to inflated settlements.

The bill passed the Senate March 18 unanimously, and is now pending before the House Rules Committee.

Chief sponsors of the bill are Sen. Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, and Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie, with Rep. Jay Hoffman, D-Collinsville, as the chief co-sponsor in the House.

Hoffman is an attorney of counsel with the LakinChapman plaintiffs' firm of Wood River.

Murnane said in the Senate there was "confusion and a lack of understanding" about what the bill seeks to do. Murnane and others are making their objections known and are hoping to derail the legislation in the House, he said.

The Non-Recourse Civil Litigation Funding Act, among other provisions, would require that contracts for non-recourse civil litigation funding meet specified criteria. Additionally, the bill would allow consumers to cancel the contract within five business days following the consumer's receipt of funds, without penalty or further obligation.

The bill is pending in the House Rules Committee.

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