Lawsuit Abuse Awareness Week highlights impact of litigation on taxpayers and consumers

Travis Akin Oct. 16, 2011, 10:23am


During the month of October, Illinois Lawsuit Abuse Watch (I-LAW) sets aside a week dedicated to creating public awareness about the very serious issue of lawsuit abuse in Illinois.

"Lawsuit Abuse Awareness Week" is an opportunity to educate citizens about the tremendous economic and social cost we all pay as the result of personal injury lawyers who game the state's legal system to try to hit the "lawsuit lottery."

One of things I-LAW does every year during "Lawsuit Abuse Awareness Week" is to ask mayors from communities all across the state to stand with I-LAW by signing a proclamation recognizing "Lawsuit Abuse Awareness Week." The mayors who have joined with I-LAW have issued official proclamations recognizing that "the abuse of Illinois of Illinois courts hurts taxpayers who have to pay the cost for the endless lawsuits brought against city and county governments." These mayors understand that taxpayer funds that could be spent on schools, parks or police are instead spent on fighting frivolous lawsuits.

But communities are not the only ones impacted by lawsuit abuse. A recent report conducted by the non-partisan global market research firm Harris Interactive ranked Illinois 45th out of all 50 states for legal fairness and pointed to rampant lawsuit abuse in Illinois as one reason why job creation opportunities are limited here.
The unemployment rate in Illinois stands at an astonishing 9.9 percent. In addition, a recent survey from the Development Counsellors International, a company that specializes in economic development, has ranked Illinois among the three worst states in the country for doing business due to taxes, fiscal problems, state budget deficits and the cost to do business in the state.

Cleary, Illinois' status as the 'Lawsuit Abuse Capital of the Midwest' is costing our state badly-needed jobs. Instead of having a reputation as a state that is friendly to job creation, Illinois has a national reputation as a state that is friendly to lawsuit creation. Companies look to create jobs where the legal climate is fair, but why would companies want to set up shop or expand their operations in the state ranked fifth-worst in the country for lawsuit abuse and consequently make themselves targets for abusive lawsuits?

"Lawsuit Abuse Awareness Week," is a call to action for citizens to put pressure on local and state leaders to implement common-sense legal reforms. It also is an opportunity to draw attention to the importance of having good judges serve on the bench. Electing good judges is essential to restoring fairness and common sense to our courts. The foundation of a properly functioning system of justice begins with the outcome of judicial elections, which is why we as citizens need to pay attention to the individuals we elect to serve on the bench.

Next year, citizens will have an opportunity to vote in important legislative and judicial elections. If we want to improve the state's economy and bring more jobs and opportunities to Illinois – then we need to make sure the people representing us will take the issue of lawsuit abuse seriously and will fight for common-sense reforms in our courtrooms.

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