A business group is complaining again about the justice they get in some Illinois courtrooms. Madison and Saint Clair counties are again “judicial hellholes,” and Cook County is on the watch list, according to the annual report by the American Tort Reform Association. Ed Murnane of the Illinois Civil Justice League says this is enemy territory when businesses are hauled into court.
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“There are some situations in these three particular counties that happen to be particularly offensive to, I think, the concept of fairness,” he said. In particular, he complains that asbestos litigation nationally is drawn to Madison County, even when neither the plaintiffs nor the defendants and their insurers are from there. He believes the public should elect judges more favorable to business interests, and one way to accomplish that would be to have them run in the non-partisan local elections, rather than as Democrats or Republicans in the November state elections.
But Stephen D. Phillips, president of the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association, notes that 70 percent of civil cases are filed by businesses. “Mr. Murnane’s financial backers have no qualms about going to court when they think their rights have been infringed upon,” he said.
Phillips says civil litigation in general (down 25 percent since 2007) and medical malpractice cases in particular (down 40 percent since 2003) have declined in recent years, and that is not necessarily a good thing. He says there are citizens who’ve been harmed who are unable to recover damages because of the cost and complexity of bringing litigation.