Cook County legal environment described as litigation gone wild
Cook County is the most unfair legal jurisdiction in the country, according to the Institute for Legal Reform.
The institute, an affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, recently released its "2017 Lawsuit Climate Survey."
Bryan Quigley, senior vice president for strategic communications for the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform, said Chicago has become a mecca for out-of-state litigation.
“Trial lawyers from across the country are coming to Illinois and setting up shop,” Quigley told Dan Proft and Amy Jacobson, hosts of Chicago’s "Morning Answer" radio show.
Proft is a principal of Local Government Information Services, which owns this publication.
More than 1,300 senior attorneys, general counsel and other senior executives at major companies were interviewed for the survey, which found that Illinois is one of the worst states for overall treatment of tort and contract litigation, treatment of class-action lawsuits and trial judge impartiality.
Madison County came in seventh on the list of cities or counties with the least fair and reasonable litigation environment across the country.
Quigley said that a few years ago, 98 percent of the asbestos claims in Madison County courts came from people who were not from the county and that 95 percent of them were not Illinoisans.
“Twenty-eight percent of all asbestos cases in the entire nation come through Madison County,” Quigley said.
Out-of-state trial lawyers know there are court rules that will allow them to try their cases in Illinois, according to Quigley.
“It’s a very incestuous place with regard to the judges and the plaintiff’s bar, who made contributions to some of these elected officials campaigns, and they’re treated comfortably,” Quigley said.
Job creators accounted for 85 percent of survey respondents. They said a state’s litigation environment impacts their decisions about where to locate or expand their businesses.
States that were rated fair in their legal jurisdictions have consistency in their court systems, according to Quigley.
“Cases that don’t belong there do not stay there,” Quigley said.
To improve a county or state’s litigation environment, Quigley said cases built on flimsy junk science should be booted.
“If there is a piece of 'scientific research' or an expert that has been paid for by the plaintiff’s bar that is not peer-reviewed or accepted science, then it shouldn’t be in the courtroom,” Quigley said.
The state could pass laws to improve the litigation environment, according to Quigley.
“Our courts are for our citizens, not litigation tourism,” Quigley said.