GOP gubernatorial candidate Kirk Dillard, state senator from Hinsdale, got a boost from prominent civil justice reform advocate Ed Murnane today in Edwardsville.

Murnane, president of the Illinois Civil Justice League, endorsed Dillard, saying he has been the lead sponsor on practically every civil justice reform bill introduced in Illinois during the past 10 years.

"His name should be particularly well-known here in Madison County because he has been instrumental in the positive changes that are taking place," Murnane said.

As governor, Dillard said he would continue to fight for real and meaningful tort reform.

"And let me be clear; if the Democrat-controlled Illinois Supreme Court overturns the latest medical malpractice law, I will stand up with doctors, hospitals, employers, and patients to re-enact a law and I will not stop fighting until we have a fair law that protects both patients and health care providers," Dillard said in a statement.

Other GOP hopefuls say they too would make civil justice reform a priority.

Former Illinois Attorney General Jim Ryan of Elmhurst said he was the one who defended the state's 1995 tort reform law when it was argued before the Illinois Supreme Court.

Ryan ran against Rod Blagojevich for governor in 2002. He served as state attorney general from 1995-2002.

"Unfortunately, the Court struck down those reforms, and our state's lawsuit and jobs climate has suffered as a result," Ryan said. "Not only has it had a devastating impact on our employers, it has forced many health care providers to flee our state and hurt Illinois citizens' access to quality, affordable health care."

As governor, he said he would support "common sense" lawsuit reform and work to protect employers and health care providers from the threat of lawsuit abuse.

"As I've said throughout this campaign, I will sign any bill that helps makes our state more competitive — and veto any bill that makes us less competitive," Ryan said.

Dan Proft of Wheaton said civil justice reform would be a priority, especially if the Illinois Supreme Court strikes down the Medical Malpractice Reform Act of 2005, which caps non-economic damages at $500,000 for doctors and $1 million for hospitals.

Proft is a small business owner.

"The jackpot justice systems in Cook County and the Metro East are driving businesses and health care providers to neighboring states," Proft said. "Parasitic trial lawyers are directly responsible for a worsening quality of life in Illinois, from our declining manufacturing base to our shrinking pool of quality health care providers to our lack of household income growth."

Proft said "he got the message" sent in the election of Lloyd Karmeier to the Illinois Supreme Court in 2004.

"It is one of the reasons I am the only candidate proposing more than just caps on damage awards but actually going to a modified loser pays system to reduce frivolous lawsuits," he said.

Proft said that under his proposal if someone files a complaint that does not survive a summary judgment motion, the plaintiff would be subject to pay the court costs and attorneys' fees for both sides.

"We need to revolutionize our justice system in this state to eliminate the injustices that trial lawyers and their buddies on the bench are inflicting on productive families and businesses in Illinois," he said.

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