Tort reform group crowns Cook County fifth worst in nation

 
 
Updated 12/13/2010 5:56 PM

A national tort-reform watchdog group calls Cook County fifth worst in the nation for "unfair and unbalanced" awards to plaintiffs in civil cases.

But noted Chicago personal injury lawyer Thomas Demetrio spoke only partially tongue in cheek when he called the ranking by The American Tort Reform Association "a badge of honor" for Cook County Circuit Court.

 

The tort reform advocacy group's ninth annual "Judicial Hellholes" report, to be released today, specifically cites the Cook County Circuit Court judgment striking down the Illinois General Assembly's attempt to limit damages for pain and suffering in medical liability cases a decision affirmed by the Illinois Supreme Court.

Demetrio, of the Chicago firm of Corboy & Demetrio, agreed tort reform is needed, but in "better rules governing the insurance industry." He said 80 percent of medical-malpractice suits in Cook County are won by the health-care provider or insurance company sued, and pointed out that three times the state Supreme Court has ruled against caps on malpractice damages as "not constitutional period."

"Why should the health-care industry have protections that the Greyhound bus driver doesn't have?" Demetrio replied.

The study points out that Cook County is home to two-thirds of the state's litigation, but only 40 percent of its population.

"The county itself bears the brunt of its litigation-friendly attitude," the report states, "as the local government spends far more defending against lawsuits than other counties of similar size."

Cook County finished behind Philadelphia and the states of California and West Virginia as well as South Florida.

The report will be released Tuesday on the judicialhellholes.org website.