Illinois' Lawsuit Climate Ranked Nation's Worst

Asbestos, Data Privacy Lawsuits and Flood of Out-of-State Plaintiffs Make the State a Lawsuit Pariah


September 18, 2019

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Illinois’ lawsuit climate was ranked 50th—the worst in the nation—in a new national survey released today by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR). In the survey, Chicago/Cook County’s legal climate was also ranked as the worst local jurisdiction in the nation.

The 2019 Lawsuit Climate Survey: Ranking the States, conducted by renowned polling firm The Harris Poll on behalf of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform, questioned senior business executives about the fairness and reasonableness of state court systems.

The poor perception of Illinois’ legal climate is critical because 89 percent of survey participants—an all-time high—said a state’s lawsuit environment is likely to impact their company’s decisions about where to locate or do business.

“Illinois has become a legal pariah for American companies,” said Harold Kim, chief operating officer of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform. “The state’s lawsuit climate is so bad that some of the country’s largest tech companies have stopped selling their products there because of the very reasonable fear of being sued.”

In recent years plaintiffs’ lawyers have created a whole new lawsuit industry out of Illinois’ unique Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA). The law regulates the collection and storing of biometric information and is the only law in the country that allows individuals to file private lawsuits through private rights of action, with damages of $1,000 to $5,000 per violation.

Three hundred BIPA lawsuits have been filed in the last two years, more than 100 of them following January’s Illinois Supreme Court ruling that an individual can bring a private lawsuit under BIPA even if they suffered no injury.

Another major reason for Illinois’ dead-last ranking is that the state is a magnet for asbestos litigation, with more asbestos filings by far than any other state in the country. Ninety-two percent of the Illinois plaintiffs (with residency information provided in the complaint) reside outside of the state.

For the last 15 years Madison County, Illinois has been the most popular single jurisdiction in the country to file asbestos claims. In 2018, 27 percent—or more than one in four new asbestos lawsuits in the country—were filed in Madison County.

The 2019 Lawsuit Climate Survey: Ranking the States is the 12th time The Harris Poll has conducted the survey since 2002 for the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform. The final results are based on interviews with a national sample of 1,307 in-house general counsel, senior litigators or attorneys, and other senior executives who are knowledgeable about litigation matters at public and private companies with annual revenue of at least $100 million.


About the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform

ILR seeks to promote legal reform through legislative, political, judicial, and educational activities at the national, state, and local levels.

About the U.S. Chamber of Commerce

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.

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