SPRINGFIELD - Small business owners lobbied legislators Wednesday in a push for lawsuit reform.
Illinois Lawsuit Abuse Watch (I-LAW) organized the rally which included delivering proclamations from Illinois mayors that urge legislators to pass measures that "will improve the jobs climate and diminish cities’ cost of fighting junk lawsuits," according to I-LAW.
I-LAW executive director Travis Akin said the day began with a meeting with Gov. Bruce Rauner to tell him personally why they support his proposed lawsuit reforms and to "encourage him to keep fighting for these reforms in the face of intense opposition from the personal injury lawyers’ lobby."
Rauner has called for civil justice reforms that include putting an end to "forum shopping."
Akin said it is a practice applied by personal injury attorneys who file suit in "friendly" jurisdictions, something that is "all too common" in Illinois.
“For far too long, Illinois has been a magnet for personal injury lawyers and plaintiffs from all over the country who travel to Illinois and clog our courts with junk lawsuits that have nothing to do with Illinois, all in the hopes of striking it rich playing our state’s plaintiff-friendly lawsuit lottery," Akin stated.
He said that Rauner's call for "reasonable" venue reform would be "a significant step forward in bringing Illinois’ economy back and stopping the flow of jobs to neighboring states.”
Akin said that companies are moving to border states, such as Wisconsin, because of recently passed "common sense" lawsuit reforms which he says makes it less likely that businesses there will be "frivolously" sued.
“We need to create jobs in Illinois, not more lawsuits, which is why I-LAW applauds Governor Rauner for taking the lead to weed out junk lawsuits here and restore fairness to our courts," Akin state. "Governor Rauner’s reasonable, common sense lawsuit reforms will create jobs and unclog our courts, which will speed the legal process for those with legitimate claims.”
John D. Cooney, president of the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association, denounced I-LAW and its efforts, sayging the group "specializes in sowing confusion and demonizing our civil justice system on behalf of its generous benefactors who hope to maximize profits and shift the responsibility of caring for those sickened or injured by their reckless conduct onto taxpayers."
"Today’s event should be recognized for what it is, a deplorable call to strip middle and lower-income Illinoisans of their constitutional right to access the courts their tax dollars fund," Cooney stated.
"The organization’s goal is to distort public understanding of our state’s judicial system to scare citizens into giving up their constitutional right to hold dangerous drivers, polluters, careless professionals, and companies that cut corners responsible for the damages they cause to others."