WASHINGTON, D.C., July 11, 2003 — The United States Chamber of Commerce welcomed news that the subpoenas against Thomas Donohue, President and CEO of the U.S. Chamber, and three other tort reform advocates have been withdrawn by a Madison County law firm.
“The subpoena was an illegitimate attempt to silence the critics of lawsuit abuse,” said Lisa Rickard, president of the Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform. “The attorney’s action to withdraw his own subpoena saved the court from wasting its time in a hearing, but the outcome would have been the same.”
The Lakin law firm served the subpoenas during a June 5 news conference on the Madison County courthouse steps, highlighting lawsuit abuse in that court system and the need for reform. Madison County has more class action filings per capita than any other county in America. Thirty-nine class actions have been filed so far this year, a record-setting pace. The county also is home to some of the largest damage awards in the country, including the recent $10.1 billion verdict against a tobacco company and a $250 million award to a single plaintiff in an asbestos case that had no ties to the county or to the state.
“We shined a light on the litigation madness that has gripped Madison County and were met by attorneys more concerned with protecting their home court advantage than serving the cause of justice,” said Rickard. “We will not be intimidated or prevented from speaking out on a matter of urgent public concern — creating a legal system that is fair and balanced for defendants and plaintiffs.”
The lawsuit epidemic in Madison County is an economic liability to the state of Illinois and a red flag to companies from around the world, according to the Chamber. An unfavorable legal system deters economic development and job growth.