Employers Launch 'Land of Lawsuits' Campaign to Push for Legal Reform; Effort Includes Paid Advertising, Town Hall Meetings, New Web Site

WASHINGTON — A coalition of Illinois business and legal reform groups today launched a statewide public education campaign in support of comprehensive legal reforms that would bring fairness and…

WASHINGTON — A coalition of Illinois business and legal reform groups today launched a statewide public education campaign in support of comprehensive legal reforms that would bring fairness and common sense to the state’s abusive legal system. The effort will feature paid advertising, a grassroots lapel pin campaign, a series of town hall meetings, and a new Web site http://www.landoflawsuits.com, designed to educate Illinois citizens on the need for legal reform.

“We have a litigation explosion in Illinois that is hurting consumers and employers alike,” said Doug Whitley, president and CEO of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, which is leading the coalition with the Illinois Civil Justice League and U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform.

“Costs are rising, jobs are being lost, and doctors are fleeing the state – all because of frivolous lawsuits that are lining the pockets of predatory trial lawyers. Illinois needs legal reform now,” added Whitley.

The coalition will kick off the effort this week with a full-page ad in the Springfield State Journal-Register. This ad features a photo of Abraham Lincoln with the text, “Honest Abe Would Be Ashamed – The Land of Lincoln Has Become the Land of Lawsuits.” A similar message will be featured on lapel pins and bumper stickers distributed to a statewide network of legal reform activists.

The coalition also has planned a series of town hall meetings across the state. The first meeting will be held on Wednesday, April 20 at 7 p.m. at the Peoria Public Library in Peoria. A town hall meeting also is scheduled for Thursday, April 21 at 7 p.m. at the Peru Eagles in Peru.

“Now is the time to act,” said Ed Murnane, president of the Illinois Civil Justice League. “Illinois’ legal system is one of the most unfair, abusive legal systems in the country, and without immediate action to reform the system, it’s only going to get worse.”

“Lawsuit abuse is threatening the livelihoods of thousands of Illinois workers, stifling the creation of new Illinois jobs, and hitting the pocketbooks of each and every Illinois consumer,” said Lisa Rickard, president of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform. “This campaign is designed to raise awareness of the state’s legal crisis, and to urge enactment of legal reforms that would make the state’s legal system simpler, fairer and faster for everyone.”

Illinois ranked 46th out of 50 states in the 2005 ILR/Harris State Liability Systems Ranking Study, having dropped 12 places in three years. Three Illinois counties – Cook, Madison and St. Clair – were ranked among the fifteen worst jurisdictions in the country.

The Illinois State Chamber of Commerce promotes the interests of Illinois business by working to improve the state’s business climate. The Illinois Chamber aggressively advocates legislation and public policies that support economic growth, and is a source of timely and reliable information on matters important to its members, Illinois businesses and the general public. The Illinois Chamber also provides, to its more than 3,200 members, effective programs and services that meet their business needs, including immediate answers to legal and human resources concerns and access to training and consulting services.

The Illinois Civil Justice League is a coalition of Illinois citizens, small and large businesses, associations, professional societies, not-for-profit organizations and local governments that have joined together to work for fairness in the Illinois civil justice system.

The mission of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR) is to make America’s legal system simpler, fairer, and faster for everyone. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business federation, representing more than three million businesses and organizations of every size, sector, and region. The U.S. Chamber represents more than 1,200 employers – large and small – across the state of Illinois.

For more information, go to http://www.landoflawsuits.com