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January 4, 2005

U.S. Chamber Commends President Bush for Shining Lawsuit Abuse Spotlight on Madison County, Illinois

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR) today praised President George W. Bush for calling attention to one of the nation’s most notorious havens for lawsuit abuse, Madison County, Illinois.

“The President could not have chosen a more fitting site to discuss the need for comprehensive legal reform,” said Lisa Rickard, president of ILR. “Madison County exemplifies everything that is wrong with our legal system, which is why opportunistic plaintiffs’ attorneys from all over the country flock to Madison courts in search of friendly judges and a big payday.”

Lawsuit abuse in Madison and St. Clair counties is the primary reason Illinois has dropped ten spots to number 44 in the ILR/Harris State Liability Systems Ranking Study in the last two years. Lawsuits are fueling skyrocketing liability insurance rates in the region and have forced over 150 physicians to leave the area. In addition, lenient venue rules and a reputation for pro-plaintiff judges have made Madison County home to numerous class action filings. The county has seen an increase of over 1,100 percent in asbestos lawsuit filings in recent years.

“Unfortunately, frivolous litigation is not limited to southern Illinois,” continued Rickard. “That is why we need comprehensive reforms at the federal level that include passage of the Class Action Fairness Act, asbestos litigation reform legislation and medical malpractice liability reform.”

According to the latest data from Tillinghast Towers-Perrin, America’s litigation system is the world’s most expensive, draining more than $245 billion from the U.S. economy, and costing the average American family nearly $3,400 a year in higher prices, higher insurance rates and higher health care costs. The system costs small businesses an astounding $88 billion a year, according to a recent NERA Economic Consulting study conducted for the Institute for Legal Reform.

The mission of the Institute for Legal Reform is to make America’s legal system simpler, fairer and faster for everyone. It 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 more than three million businesses and organizations of every size, sector and region.

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