Mascoutah passes legal reform resolution

By Ann Knef | Dec 4, 2007

Gerald Daugherty

MASCOUTAH -– A coalition of Illinois legal reform advocates, including the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform, Illinois Civil Justice League and Illinois Chamber of Commerce, today lauded the Mascoutah City Council for passing a resolution calling on the Illinois legislature to pass meaningful lawsuit reform.

The resolution, unanimously passed by a vote of 5-0, urges lawmakers in Springfield "to enact meaningful, comprehensive lawsuit reform to protect our county's employers, workers and consumers."

Mascoutah Mayor Gerald Daugherty, who voted with the council Monday night, said he occasionally thinks "the whole world has gone crazy" with lawsuit abuse.

"Some things you read in the paper with people suing people, it's ridiculous," he said. "I don't understand why anybody would not want to pass a resolution."

"Years ago people used to be personally responsible for their actions," Daugherty said. "Nowadays they're not. If I'm awkward and trip over something it's not my fault, it's someone else's."

A former president of the Southwestern Illinois Council of Mayors, Daugherty said he would be "talking up" the resolution with other area mayors.

Curt Mercadante, a spokesman for the legal reform coalition, said he was encouraged by the city council's efforts to bring the issue to the attention of state legislators.

"Illinois' reputation for lawsuit abuse is compounding an already unfriendly business climate," Mercadante said. "Comprehensive lawsuit reform starts at the municipal level where employers live and operate their businesses."

Mascoutah is one of several municipalities that has passed - or is currently considering - such legal reform resolutions. The city of Peoria and the Township of Zuma (near the Quad Cities) recently passed similar resolutions.

In addition, the Legislative Affairs committee of the DuPage County Board recently passed such a resolution, and the full board likely will consider the resolution in 2008.

According to a recent Harris survey conducted for the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform, Illinois is ranked among the worst states in the country (46th out of 50 states) for lawsuit abuse. According to the Harris survey, 88% of respondents say that the number of frivolous lawsuits is a problem.

A recent actuarial study estimates that lawsuit abuse is costing Illinois more than $11 billion a year. For the nation as a whole the bill comes to $260 billion a year, or $886 for every American man, woman, and child.

Mercadante said the resolution passed by Mascoutah sends a message to the legislature that lawsuit reform is needed.

"During the most recent legislative session, trial lawyer allies in Springfield successfully opposed every lawsuit reform measure, and advanced legislation to expand the profits on the Illinois trial lawyer industry," said Mercadante.

The Madison County Record is owned by the Institute for Legal Reform, an affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

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