Different name, same scary agenda

by Travis Akin |
Oct. 28, 2007, 7:00am

Travis Akin

Each Halloween, Hollywood tries to find new and innovative ways to scare people. Whether it is the reincarnation of an old villain or the creation of a new one, scary movies have become a staple of the Halloween season.

One of the most common tricks used in horror movies is to take something ordinary out of everyday life and turn it into something sinister. Simple things such as dolls, sharks, pet cemeteries and anything else Hollywood can dream up are often used as instruments of terror.

Sometimes fiction has a way of looking a lot like reality. Life is full of things that are more than what they seem, and in the end, some of those things can be far more dangerous than how they initially appear. Take the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, which recently changed its name to the American Association for Justice. On the surface, there is a certain dignity about the new name. After all, who would oppose justice?

But like a typical horror movie, there is more to the new name than meets the eye. Yes, the name has changed, but the organization still embraces its same scary agenda for the American people. Their goal, as it has always been, is to oppose common sense lawsuit reforms and make it even easier than it already is to win the lawsuit lottery in the jackpot justice system we have here in Illinois and across the country.

Unlike a horror movie, though, this is real life. Just this year, personal injury lawyers pushed legislation in Illinois to hold a defendant 100 percent liable even if the individual, business or municipality was only 1 percent responsible. It was an obvious attempt to hit the jackpot by targeting the individuals with the deepest pockets.

Illinois courts are already awash with frivolous lawsuits brought by those personal injury lawyers who advertise so aggressively on TV.

Take the recent case of a Joliet woman suing a tavern after she started dancing on top of the bar and fell off. She claims the tavern should have provided a stool for her to get down off the bar.

Instead of being embarrassed for her behavior, she is suing.

The scary truth about these lawsuits is that they cost all of us dearly. A report released earlier this year by Tillinghast-Perrin found that every person in Illinois pays an extra $880 per year in higher prices just to cover the cost of frivolous, excessive litigation. For a family of four, this adds up to about $3,500 per year.

The thrills and chills of Halloween will be over on November 1st, but the junk lawsuit horror show now playing in our courts will continue to run every day until next Halloween unless we pressure our legislators to pass common sense legal reforms during next spring's legislative session.

Let's make sure that when Halloween rolls around next year, we will no longer have to live in fear of becoming the target of a junk lawsuit.

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