Technology & Manufacturing Association hosts legislative briefing on the danger posed by lawsuit abuse
Illinois' recently-passed law that increases interest rates on civil damages is a boon to trial lawyers and damaging to manufacturers.
That was one of the messages in the recent Technology & Manufacturing Association (TMA) legislative briefing webinar featuring Tiger Joyce, President of the American Tort Reform Association. Joyce discussed the significant concerns manufacturers have in the face of the heightened potential for lawsuits surrounding COVID mandates in the workplace, product liability, and other tort issues.
Joyce pointed to SB72 as one example, a compromise version of a shocking bill that legislators pushed through on a last-minute, party-line vote that allows attorneys to charge additional interest on civil lawsuit verdicts, which Joyce noted was a clear handout to trial lawyers by Speaker Mike Madigan as he was leaving office. Gov. Pritzker signed SB72 into law on May 28, 2021.
"Unfortunately, Illinois has been a prominent feature in what we call our 'Judicial Hellholes Report'," Joyce explained, noting that Madison, St. Clair, and Cook Counties, as a trio, ranked as the fifth-worst jurisdiction for litigation in the country. Joyce also highlighted other troubling aspects of Illinois law, such as the ability in some circumstances to bring a case without even demonstrating an injury.
Joyce said unless Illinois can pass common-sense reforms that restore a civil legal system that serves plaintiffs and defendants alike, it will continue to be among the nation's "judicial hellholes." He added that independent analyses have revealed doing so would create thousands of jobs and strengthen the economy. Part of that benefit would come from the reduction of the so-called "tort tax," which is the added cost passed on to taxpayers as a result of the state's high level of litigious activity.
"Lawsuit abuse and the unbalanced legal environment plaguing Illinois is a significant concern for manufacturers," said TMA Executive Vice President Dennis LaComb. "The incentives to litigate that exist in the current environment spawn excessive, sometimes frivolous litigation that both hinders business development and punishes taxpayers. A more balanced approach would be fairer and more beneficial to Illinois' economy and residents."
About TMA: Founded in 1925, the Technology & Manufacturing Association (TMA) serves small and medium-size manufacturers throughout Illinois and the United States; representing over 32,000 employees and nearly 26,000,000 square feet of manufacturing plant. Visit www.tmaillinois.org or www.facebook.com/tmanet.