State Rep. Dwight Kay (R-Glen Carbon) at left in committee hearing today. At right is attorney Stephen Kaufmann of HeplerBroom in Springfield.

SPRINGFIELD - Illinois Lawsuit Abuse Watch (I-LAW) executive director Travis Akin hailed a House committee hearing on lawsuit reform initiatives as a "good first step" toward improving the state's legal climate.

"The culture of lawsuit abuse in Illinois has created a situation where we are importing lawsuits and exporting jobs and opportunities," Akin said. "If we are going to attract new jobs and opportunities to Illinois then we need to make reforming our legal system a priority."

Lawmakers in the House Judiciary Civil Law Committee on Thursday heard testimony on legislation that deals with joint and several liability, venue and expert witness testimony.

"The hearing was a significant step forward, but it is up to Illinois residents to join in the fight and continue to help build momentum for these reforms," Akin said. "The hearing should be the beginning of the process, not the end result."

State Rep. Dwight Kay, (R-Glen Carbon) who serves on the judiciary committee, is a staunch proponent of civil justice reform.

He is chief sponsor of House Bill 1902, which would ensure that businesses or individuals found liable in civil suits pay their fair share of damages. The bill is intended to reverse current law which can hold "deep pocket" defendants liable for 100 percent of damages, even if they are only partially responsible.

"Defendants should only have to pay for the portion of the damages they actually caused," Kay said of the measure.

Other bills that were heard today included House Bill 17, which would establish stricter guidelines on where a lawsuit can be filed in Illinois, and House Bill 305, which would put into law some requirements on expert witness testimony in civil cases such as qualifications, testimony, disclosure, and compensation of expert witnesses and basis of expert opinion testimony for anyone testifying as an expert witness in civil cases.

Kay is co-sponsor of HB17 and HB305.

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