WASHINGTON, DC—Illinois trails the rest of the country when it comes to legal fairness, according to a new study released today by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR). The corporate lawyers familiar with the current litigation environment in Illinois ranked the state 45th out of 50. The survey respondents also named two Illinois counties among the worst jurisdictions in the country; Cook County was named as the single most unfair and unreasonable litigation environment and Madison County was named the fifth most unfair.
“Home to two of the most notorious jackpot jurisdictions in America and known for imposing expansive liability, Illinois has rolled out an ‘unwelcome mat’ to business,” said Lisa A. Rickard, president of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform. “Illinois needs more jobs, not more lawsuits. Yet, even with an unemployment rate higher than the national average, the state’s anti-business legal climate discourages economic growth at a time when it needs it most.”
Two-thirds, or 67%, of respondents said that a state’s lawsuit environment is likely to impact important business decisions at their company, such as where to locate or expand their business. This level of response is up 10% from just three years ago. The survey, Lawsuit Climate 2010: Ranking the States, was conducted by Harris Interactive by telephone and online from October 2009 to January 2010.
On Feb. 4, 2010, the Illinois Supreme Court dealt another blow to the state’s reputation and added to its image as a haven for lawsuit abuse by striking down the state’s medical malpractice law. The court’s decision dismissed the will of the state legislature, which, in 2005, overwhelmingly passed liability reforms in order to protect access to quality health care for Illinois residents.
Rickard said that the state’s legal climate affects all businesses, but small businesses can be particularly hard hit. “Most small businesses operate on small profit margins. In an economic downturn, a single lawsuit against a small business may mean the difference between survival and closing its doors,” said Rickard.
ILR also announced a new national advertising campaign called “Jobs, Not Lawsuits,” which will include movie trailers to be shown on more than 300 movie screens throughout the country, including in Illinois. It will be the first time that movie trailers have been used for issue advertising in the state. The two-minute trailers feature the stories of small businesses that were the subject of costly lawsuits that had a material impact on their companies.
ILR seeks to promote civil justice reform through legislative, political, judicial, and educational activities at the national, state, and local levels.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business federation representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions, as well as state and local chambers and industry associations.