For those of us living in Illinois, the arrest of Governor Rod Blagojevich was hardly surprising. After all, Illinois has a long history of indicting governors.
But as a result of this latest episode, our state's reputation as a fair place to do business has taken another hit, with the feds declaring Illinois one of the most corrupt states in the country.
Unfortunately, a new report says Illinois is competing for another dubious title – "Lawsuit Abuse Capital of the Country." The 2008 "Judicial Hellholes" report, issued by the American Tort Reform Association, examined courts and legal systems across the country and named Cook County the third worst "judicial hellhole" in the country and named Madison and St. Clair Counties as troublesome jurisdictions to watch.
According to the report, Cook County is home to 41 percent of the state's population, and yet 65 percent of the state's lawsuits are filed in Cook County, underscoring the widespread belief that personal injury lawyers are targeting Cook County as a friendly place to file a lawsuit – even if that lawsuit has nothing to do with Cook County.
The culture of lawsuit abuse that runs rampant in Cook County and throughout Illinois has created a situation where we are importing lawsuits and exporting jobs and opportunities. It defies logic to expect Illinois' economy to grow under these circumstances even in good economic times, and the Chicagoland area's status as a judicial hellhole combined with Madison and St. Clair County's watch list status, is only going to make a bad economic situation worse.
Our society's addiction to lawsuits has been a poison pill for the state's economy. Nationally, unemployment has jumped to 6.7 percent, according to the latest figures. Here in Illinois, the employment situation is even worse. The unemployment rate currently stands at 7.3 percent.
Even in good economic times, the state has failed to attract jobs and opportunities. From 2001-2006, the U.S. economy added 4.3 million jobs and during that same time period – Illinois actually lost 60,000 jobs.
At a time of great economic crisis, we can ill afford to continue in our failure to change Illinois' reputation as a magnet for lawsuit abuse.
To find out more information about how to get involved in this important fight log onto www.illawsuitabusewatch.org. It is time we all stood together and put an end to Illinois' culture of political corruption and lawsuit abuse.