The release of the annual "Judicial Hellholes," report has once again delivered some bad news for Madison and St. Clair Counties.

The 2010 "Judicial Hellholes" report, issued by the American Tort Reform Association, examined courts and legal systems across the country and placed Madison County and St. Clair County on the "Watch List." Madison County tops the "Watch List," and warns, "A growing number of filings and continued questionable rulings place Madison County, once a perennial Judicial Hellhole, on the very precarious edge of sinking back in again."

Madison County continues to be a destination for personal injury lawyers looking to hit the
"lawsuit lottery." This year, there have a number of outrageous class action lawsuits filed. For instance, one lawsuit filed against Blimpie accused the sub sandwich shop of not putting enough meat on their double meat sandwiches.

Seriously, who files a lawsuit against a company for not putting enough meat on a sandwich? Most people would simply ask the clerk for more meat. But in our sue-happy society and in a place like Madison County, not getting enough meat is not only a reason to file a lawsuit – it is cause to file a class action lawsuit.

In another class action lawsuit, plaintiffs accused Shop-n-Save of charging too much to cash checks. For most people being charged too much to cash a check would prompt a polite request for the clerk to charge the right amount.

But in our litigious society, charging a little too much to cash a check is a valid reason to file a lawsuit.

In addition to outrageous class action lawsuits, Madison County is on pace to have more than 800 asbestos cases filings this year alone. As of Oct. 27, the number of asbestos case filings had already reached 650 in Madison County. Only about 11 percent of the asbestos cases have any connection to Madison County.

In St. Clair County, there were a total of four asbestos cases filed in 2009. As of December 1, of this year, there were 53 new asbestos cases filed in St. Clair County – a whopping 1200 percent increase. According to the report, "Madison County's neighbor, St. Clair County, also continues to raise anxiety among civil defendants. Like its neighbor, St. Clair County is viewed by personal injury lawyers around the country as a choice jurisdiction in which to file their lawsuits."

The jobless rate in the Metro-East region stands at 9.3 percent. The last thing the region needs is for Madison and St. Clair Counties to sink back into 'hellhole' status again. If we want to bring jobs and opportunities back to the Metro East, then we have to shed the region's reputation as a plaintiffs' paradise once and for all.

Local officials and judges serving in the Metro East cannot stand idly by and let the region sink back into 'hellhole' status. If they don't take the 2010 "Judicial Hellholes" report seriously, then nothing will change and Madison County will once again be known as the "Lawsuit Capital of the Country."

Illinois Lawsuit Abuse Watch certainly will be watching them to see how they react to this report and I-LAW will continue to sound the alarm about the need for continued reform efforts in the Metro-East.

For more information on the "Judicial Hellholes" report and how to become a part of I-LAW's grassroots efforts, log onto www.ILLawsuitAbuseWatch.org.

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