Sue where it suits you

By The Madison County Record | May 10, 2009

Medical malpractice lawsuits today are down 41% in Pennsylvania.

This result comes six years after state leaders passed a rule requiring lawsuits to be filed in the county where the alleged malpractice took place.

In past years trial lawyers gravitated to the pro-plaintiff courtrooms of big city Philadelphia, "shopping" their cases away from rural and suburban judges and juries that were pro-fact rather than pro-plaintiff or pro-defendant. No more shopping now.

Illinois has no such law. Venue shopping is common.

What was unusual about the Pennsylvania law was that Democrat Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell--normally pro-plaintiff lawyer --publicly and prominently made headlines taking credit for it.

"Pennsylvania is a success story when it comes to medical malpractice reforms," Governor Rendell said in a press release. "Our actions have worked."

Meanwhile, the same common sense reform touted by Rendell has been proposed in Springfield this legislative session. State Sen. Kirk Dillard (R-Hinsdale), again, has sponsored a bill to stop intra-state venue shopping to our own Philadelphias--the big city courts of Chicago and our Metro-East. The Democrat leaders in the legislature are doing their best to ignore the bill.

While Pennsylvania's Democrat governor is touting the reform, noting that it has meant fewer frivolous lawsuits and lower insurance costs for doctors and businesses, Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) and House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) aren't showing the slightest interest.

Dillard did get to call his bill for a pro forma committee hearing. For his to-be-unmoved colleagues, he called some testimony in support of the reform. Business owners, doctors and hospital executives want it as a way to improve the work world and access to quality health care.

In Pennsylvania, political leaders believed the reasoning of job creators and life savers deserves the same consideration as that of the people do the suing. But here, the opposite is true. In spite of the economic downturn, Illinois leaders have higher priorities than improving the state's business climate.

As recession continues and unemployment mounts, you might ask yours just what, exactly, they are.

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