Governor Bruce Rauner’s call for reasonable lawsuit reforms that are a key part of his “Turnaround Agenda” are a significant step forward in bringing Illinois’ economy back and stopping the flow of jobs to neighboring states.
Governor Rauner has proposed a common sense lawsuit reform that would stop personal injury lawyers from shopping around for the friendliest court jurisdiction, even if the lawsuit has nothing to do with that jurisdiction.
This practice, often called “venue shopping,” 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.
These greedy personal injury lawyers have turned the “Land of Lincoln” into the “Land of Lawsuits,” and that is hurting job creation efforts in Illinois.
Illinois is ranked the fifth worst state in the country for legal fairness, according to a report from the non-partisan research company Harris Interactive. The reality is companies look to move to states where the legal climate is fair, which is why Illinois’ status as the “Lawsuit Abuse Capital of the Midwest” is making it extremely difficult to attract new employers.
Even worse, Illinois is actually losing jobs due to our lawsuit-friendly courts, as companies have moved across our borders to states like Wisconsin that have recently passed common sense lawsuit reforms that have made it less likely that businesses there will be frivolously sued.
Illinois ranked dead last in the Midwest for new payroll jobs added to the economy in 2014 while Iowa ranked 14th and Wisconsin 20th, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
We need to create jobs in Illinois, not more lawsuits, which is why Governor Rauner should be applauded for taking the lead to weed out junk lawsuits here and restore fairness to our courts. 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.
Governor Rauner has also proposed a reasonable reform that will make sure personal injury lawyers will no longer be allowed to target citizens and small businesses for lawsuits based on perceived ability to pay rather than degree of responsibility. This common sense lawsuit reform legislation will ensure that those who need justice receive it, while also protecting people from being forced to pay for another person’s wrongdoing.
Illinoisans should contact their legislators and ask them if they will stand with the personal injury lawyers, who are the only ones who profit from this unfair system, or the small businesses and individual citizens who are far too frequently targets of unfair frivolous lawsuits and are made to pay for personal injury lawyer greed. The time for common sense lawsuit reform is now.
Travis Akin is Executive Director of Illinois Lawsuit Abuse Watch.