lllinois cannot afford bill that will delay lawsuit settlements

By Travis Akin | May 24, 2013

The Illinois civil justice system has a well-deserved reputation as lawsuit friendly, with people flocking here from other states to file their junk lawsuits in the hopes of winning big playing the lawsuit lottery.

This flood of frivolous lawsuits into our civil justice system results in clogged courts and delays compensation for people with legitimate claims from being made whole in a timely manner.

Unfortunately, the Illinois House is considering legislation that if enacted in its current form will further delay people from being made whole by making it more difficult for parties to settle a lawsuit.

Senate Bill 1912 will discourage settlements and burden the courts with cases parties would otherwise settle by imposing statutory deadlines the parties cannot realistically meet, and therefore will force them to litigate their cases.

This means more cases will be tried in court, leading to an even greater backlog of cases in our already clogged courtrooms. Illinois residents deserve to get justice in our courts in a timely manner, but  SB 1912 will hurt – not help – the ability of Illinois residents to get a speedy resolution to their disputes.

There is no need for lawmakers to rush through this legislation in its current flawed form. Having a timetable to pay out settlements is not necessarily a bad idea, but the timetable must be reasonable and must be flexible enough to accommodate the financial situation of the parties involved. A compromise can certainly be reached on this issue.

This legislation has been on a fast track in the General Assembly, but members of the Illinois House should slow the process down and fix this bill so that it doesn’t further clog our courts and punish consumers who want to settle and move on.

Illinois was recently ranked the nation’s fifth-worst state for legal fairness by the respected non-partisan research firm Harris Interactive.

Passing SB 1912 in its current form will make our state’s civil justice system even less fair, and that’s bad news for everyone in Illinois. Companies are unlikely to move to a state with a legal system ranked as one of the least fair in the country. If the Illinois House approves SB 1912 as it’s written, it will result in even fewer new jobs here.

Let’s fix this bill and make sure Illinois is creating jobs, not litigation.

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