SPRINGFIELD - Democrats including Sen. Bill Haine of Alton voted 8-4 against a venue reform proposal in the Senate Judiciary Committee today.
The proposal, sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont), sought to end "venue shopping," which critics describe as filing personal injury suits in friendly courts to maximize recovery.
Under current law, lawsuits can be filed in a county even if the plaintiff or defendant doesn’t reside in that county.
Venue reform was part of Gov. Bruce Rauner's Turnaround Illinois agenda, which is not faring so well in the final days of the spring legislative session. On Wednesday, the same committee voted down workers' compensation reform, also 8-4.
During today's hearing, Radogno and supporters talked about compromises that were made to their venue reform proposal: Instead of a direct limit on where a lawsuit can be filed, the compromise would provide a priority ranking for an appropriate venue based first on office location of a defendant, but if there is no office in state, a suit would be allowed where the defendant does business.
Another compromise would have provided that a lawsuit without an in-state defendant could proceed if the cause of action primarily arose in Illinois.
Democrat Senators balked at Republicans' use of the term "compromise," saying they were not in agreement to the proposed language.
They also swiped at the process that went into drafting the bill and the late hour it was filed - May 27 - with five days left on the session calendar.
Radogno said tort reform concepts have been discussed for quite some time and that their complaints were "completely bogus" and would keep Illinois "in the rotten position" it is in.