Mark Fitton at the Illinois News Network just published a story about a recent poll published by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for Legal Reform exploring how fair and reasonable the states’ tort liability systems are perceived to be by U.S. businesses.
Illinois came in at #48 on the list, down from #46 in 2012. The only states with worse results were perennial bottom feeders West Virginia and Louisiana.
The Institute explained the importance of why this poll was important to companies making decisions as to where to locate:
“These perceptions matter because they can be influential in business decisions about where to conduct/expand/constrict business operations or sales. Three quarters of the respondents in this survey (75%) report that a state’s litigation environment is likely to impact important business decisions at their companies such as where to locate or to do business. This is a significant increase from 70% in 2012 and 67% in 2010.”
More from Mark’s story:
“The Chamber rolled out the national survey in a Chicago news conference, which Gov. Bruce Rauner joined. Rauner praised the Chamber’s efforts to shine light on the issue and said the state’s reputation for a nasty lawsuit atmosphere was hurting Illinois in job retention, job creation and employer recruitment.“You come here, you open yourself up to attack and excessive judgment against your company,” the governor said. “There needs to be a balance of influence, a balance of outcomes between plaintiffs and defendants, between employers and those who are … attacking employers,” Rauner said. “We’re clearly out of balance. We have two of the areas of the nation that are regarded as the worst places for lawsuit abuse, completely biased for plaintiffs and plaintiffs’ attorneys,” Rauner said. “That’s down in Madison County and, unfortunately, right here in the city of Chicago.”
The governor said he’s proposed legislation to improve what he considers unfairly weighted aspects of Illinois’ system, such as medical awards based on charges rather than actual payments; overly inclusive liability standards and venue shopping by plaintiffs.
The subject is important because Illinois can’t fix a seemingly continual budget crisis without improving its economy, Rauner said: “Without growth we will not solve our financial troubles.”
As stated above, the governor has made lawsuit abuse one of the pillars of his “Turnaround Agenda”, which has hit a brick wall during the ongoing budget debate in Springfield.
Of course, it’s difficult to get lawsuit reform through a legislature that is so beholden to the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association, which, according to the Illinois State Board of Elections, has donated over $4.8 million to various politicians since 2000.
Rauner wants his Agenda to be part and parcel with the budget negotiations, because there’s no way he’s going to get action on it without using the budget as a lever. It’s created a messy situation, but unless we get things like tort reform, worker’s compensation reform, elimination of prevailing wage laws and a general rollback of regulations that stifle job creation in the state, Illinois’ budget woes are only going to get worse.
Since entering the Illinois House, Jack Franks has received $56,078 from the Trial Lawyers Association. How likely is it that he’ll back the governor on reining in out of control litigation?