Two Illinois Counties Named as “Judicial Hellholes”

Dec 18, 2013

Asbethos litigation abuse earned two Illinois counties the unenviable title of “judicial hellholes” in an American Tort Reform Association (ATRA) report.

Madison County, Illinois is famous not for its bridges—wrong state—but for being the “Nation’s Asbestos Court.” ATRA notes, “Despite having only .008 % of the U.S. population, Madison County now accounts for one in four asbestos lawsuits filed in the U.S.”

As the Institute for Legal Reform (ILR) report, Litigating in the Field of Dreams, explains, the county became an asbestos lawsuit magnet “by suspending application of the governing legal standard for where cases should properly be litigated; by denying defendants the ability to litigate these and other issues; and by creating a trial docket which places tremendous pressure on defendants” to settle.

Because it's being flooded with asbestos cases, Cook County, Illinois, which includes Chicago, is on its way to being the next Madison County, according to the IRL report, A Docket on the Brink. By failing to address its swollen docket, the court has created a vicious cycle of injustice:

Increased filings have meant increased numbers of trial set cases. Increased trial settings make it harder to defend individual cases on the merits. The difficulty of defending cases on the merits pressures defendants to settle, often at inflated values. Settling large numbers of cases encourages Cooney & Conway to continue broadly naming defendants and enables the firm to attract more cases.

It no surprise that Illinois was ranked as having the 46th worst lawsuit climate according to an 2012 ILR survey.

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