House Guest - Ed Murnane
I must admit that the harsh anti-business rhetoric expressed during the past few days (post-med-mal signing) is disturbing; nevertheless I welcome Rep. Fritchey’s invitation to post some thoughts and comments from the tort reform “establishment” in
How easy it is to target “big business.” How easy it is for some to forget that it is “big businesses,” many of them in
And for those who are looking toward retirement, they provide investment opportunities through mutual funds and 401k programs and pensions that may yield healthy returns if – IF – the businesses can remain profitable.
So don’t be so quick to criticize “big business” or the members of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. All of us need them and we need them to be healthy.
A disturbing trend in
But more to the issue at hand: tort reform (even we “tort reformers” would prefer “civil justice reform” since only lawyers, law students and French pastry chefs know what a tort (or torte) is.
Contrary to what some of Rep. Fritchey’s closest allies may believe (and perhaps Rep. Fritchey himself?), the Illinois Civil Justice League is not about “big business.” Although we work closely with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, we also work closely with not-for-profit organizations and local governments and health care providers (including individual doctors, as well as the Illinois State Medical Society and Illinois Hospital Association).
Local governments are strong supporters of civil justice reform because they are frequent targets of lawsuits – some/many might be considered frivolous – and the local governments would like to keep those costs down. They’re an easy target, unfortunately, because they CAN raise more money by increasing taxes, which several in the
Not-for-profit organizations are threatened by lawsuits, and thus by higher liability insurance costs, and so many of them have joined with us to try to reduce the costs and threat of needless litigation.
This is not a News Flash, but there are some in
We hope the new law and the cap on damages helps cut the cost of medical liability in
But one of the most convincing arguments we have seen in favor of the need for reform and reducing the number of lawsuits in Illinois – especially in Southern Illinois – was the result of an analysis the Illinois Civil Justice League did of EVERY medical malpractice suit filed in Madison and St. Clair Counties in 2000, 2001, 2002, and 2003. Our study of actual court records showed that more than half of the physicians in those two counties had been named in a medical malpractice suit (either individually or through their practice) during that four-year period.
And we also learned from the court records that more than 75% of those who were named were eventually dismissed from the suit and had no obligation to pay anything. Of course they had to pay legal fees, or their insurer did, and they had to take time away from patients to prepare and give depositions, and they had to live with the chilling effect of knowing that any kind of care they give a patient could possibly result in another costly lawsuit.
If the new law helps reduce the number of lawsuits, that will be a plus for patients and for doctors.
Here are three other civil justice reform proposals which make sense. They do not preclude anyone from filing a lawsuit; they do not limit what could be recovered; they should have the support of both sides of the civil justice reform issue.
Venue Reform: Lawsuits should be filed where they make sense, either where the incident happened, or where the plaintiff lives, or where the “wrong-doer” is located. They should not be allowed in a jurisdiction simply because the judges are friendly.
Consumer Fraud Act Jury Option:
Jury Service Reform: Citizens need to be encouraged to serve on juries. One way to do that is to compensate them more than the $15 to $20 per day they are paid in most counties – not enough for parking in some areas. Employers need to be encourage do allow employees to serve and there should be no job risk to the employee.
How could anyone in