Ed Murnane

Karen May

Three Democratic legislators have withdrawn their support of a bill that has been criticized as a "money grab" by trial attorneys. And in the meantime, the bill's proponents have asked to extend the deadline for action on what has become a controversial proposal.

State Reps. Karen May (D-Highland Park), Jack McGuire (D-Joliet) and Elaine Nekritz (D-Des Plaines), backed off their sponsorship of SB1911, a proposal designed to provide windfall recovery to plaintiffs in personal injury litigation.

May said she could not support the bill as amended. "The bill changed," she said.

When it was introduced last year by State Sen. Bill Haine (D-Alton), the proposal aimed to give greater protection to older persons by amending the Illinois Domestic Violence Protection Act.

In the waning days of this year's legislative session, State Rep. Jay Hoffman (D-Collinsville), a member attorney of the Lakin Law Firm in Wood River, drove the bill through a House committee with an amendment that allows a plaintiff to recover damages for the amount of medical bills billed rather than the amount actually paid to health care providers.

Payment of claims are generally reduced for a variety of reasons including pre-existing contractual agreements and legally-imposed discounts such as Medicaid.

A wide range of interests, including medical, insurance, manufacturers and defense attorneys have railed against the bill.

Ed Murnane, president of the Illinois Civil Justice League, said the amended bill was an attempt by plaintiffs' lawyers and the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association to "find a way to get more more than they are entitled to."

The deadline for action on SB1911 has been extended twice as the General Assembly session has gone into overtime.

If it were to pass in the House by the deadline date of April 30, the bill would move over to the Senate again, since the original version was amended in the House.

Last month Murnane said it was "hard to imagine" the bill passing, even in a "trial lawyer-friendly" legislature.

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