Illinois’ plaintiffs’ lawyers object to the concept of “judicial hellholes.” The American Tort Reform Association, which represents businesses that get sued, Thursday named McLean County and Madison and St. Clair counties as “judicial hellholes,” a designation issued each year to jurisdictions across the nation that businesses consider their least favorite in which to be sued. But Jerry Latherow, president of the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association, says this is baseless, and it’s a strategy to convince the public there’s a problem, thereby tainting the jury pool.
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“You go in to select a jury, and the question is asked by the judge or one of the attorneys about opinions on whether there should be tort reform, and you’ll see hands go up, and [prospective jurors] say yes, I think things have gotten out of hand,” Latherow said. Latherow says the courts are sometimes the only recourse for individuals against companies that have sold unsafe products, polluted the environment or swindled their employees. He says it is possible that some jurisdictions tend to produce results that are more favorable to plaintiffs than defendants or vice-versa, but the cases still have to be decided based on the facts and the law, and he’s confident that juries all over the state reach fair verdicts.