CARBONDALE-- Citing the 'hidden tax' consumers pay trial lawyers, pro-business groups and about 50 angry voters rallied behind tort reform measures at an Oct. 6 Town Hall meeting in Carbondale.

"Our courts are in crisis and it's time for a change," said Doug Whitley, president and CEO of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce. "We have a litigation explosion that is hurting consumers and employers alike."

Whitley joined elected officials Carbondale Mayor Brad Cole, State Sen. Dave Luechtefeld (R-Okawville), and State Rep. Mike Bost (R-Murphysboro) as well as a several Carbondale doctors at the meeting, sponsored by the Chamber and Illinois Civil Justice League.

"As a doctor, it is alarming to see my colleagues leaving the state and how such an exodus negatively impacts health care in our state," said Dr. Mike Delaney, an ear, nose, and throat doctor at Memorial Hospital in Carbondale. "Illinois is earning an anti-business reputation that is scaring off doctors."

The doctors want the state to cap non-economic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits. That would, they say, lower the soaring Illinois insurance rates that are forcing Southern Illinois' only two brain surgeons to leave the region later this year.

"It becomes a business decision for the doctors, and who can blame them for leaving here to work in a friendlier environment," said Mayor Cole.

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