Madison County led the nation in lawsuits related to a type of lung cancer last year.
Anyone who watches daytime television is bound to see an attorney advertisement seeking potential clients who suffer from mesothelioma, or lung cancer commonly caused by asbestos exposure.
According to a report by consulting firm KCIC, Madison County, Ill., accounted for nearly half of the country's mesothelioma-related lawsuit filings in 2015. Lawyers filed 1,012 lawsuits in the county last year. The next-highest was Cook County, Ill., with 114. Madison County is home to about 267,000 people.
Travis Akin, executive director of Illinois Lawsuit Abuse Watch, called the numbers an alarming trend. "It just screams that we need some commonsense reforms here in Illinois," he said. "The situation that we thought would get better just seems like it continues to get worse. The asbestos lawsuits have become a cottage industry in Madison and St. Clair counties."
The report lists St. Clair County with 101 asbestos-related lawsuits in 2015. St. Clair County was cited as accounting for 0.3 percent of national mesothelioma cases.
Akin said Madison County's reputation for asbestos-related lawsuits only draws more lawsuits. "If you build a judicial hellhole, the lawsuits will come. Word gets out. 'Hey, file your lawsuit here. Find a way to file in Madison County.'"
The study also noted that Edwardsville, Ill.-based Gori, Julian & Associates filed the most asbestos-related cases by any firm in the country last year with 460 filings. The report says the firm filed 263 mesothelioma cases in 2015, with 253 filed in Madison County. Mesothelioma cases are included in the asbestos-related filings.
KCIC estimated that its study accounts for more than 90 percent of all asbestos-related filings in the United States. When factoring in all asbestos-related filings, 1 of every 4 suits were filed in Madison County.
Madison County Chief Circuit Judge David Hylla wasn't immediately available for comment.