(The Center Square) – A new report highlights how a high volume of costly civil court cases affects Illinois' economy.
The report was done by the Perryman Group for Illinois Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse and looks into the impact of excessive civil court costs from lawsuits over matters such as workplace injuries.
The economic impacts were derived from the Economic Benefits of Tort Reform study using survey data, industry information, and a variety of corroborative source material, the group said. The results show that Illinois continues to suffer from one of the worst climates for lawsuit abuse in the country.
Lawsuit abuse qualifies as any improper legal action made with malicious or selfish intentions. These abuses in Illinois resulted in annual average direct costs of more than $12.03 billion, state gross product losses of $19.43 billion and more than 192,600 lost jobs, according to the report.
Additionally, state government losses totaled more than $1 billion, with local governments losing $840 million on average, annually.
Zach Mottl, president of Atlas Tool Works in Lyons, Illinois, said that most cases that end up going to court do not involve workers that are truly injured.
"These lawsuits that I have seen are not the kind of lawsuits where a worker was injured legitimately and got the care they needed and got back to work," Mottl said. "Those cases usually never result in a lawsuit."
Many attorneys understand how to play the system, he said, and know what to ask for and what to do in order to get settlements for their clients.
"These lawyers know about how much they can ask for before it gets to be too much and where a settlement will be reached easily without any court costs," Mottl said. "They know that businesses and insurance companies have an incentive to stay out of court."
The lawsuits that do have impact have hit three areas of the state harder than others. In Chicago, residents lost in excess of $11.3 billion in personal income annually and lawsuit abuse results in a loss of 178,178 jobs each year, the group said.
Peoria also has been impacted with residents losing more than $85.1 million annually in personal income, according to the report, and East St. Louis lost $180 million annually in personal income.
Mottl said these cases affect regular Illinois people and small businesses.
“With inflation skyrocketing to record highs and small business owners struggling to keep their doors open, the last thing Illinois needs right now are higher costs due to lawsuit abuse,” Mottl said. “Sadly, our state’s skewed legal system incentivizes frivolous lawsuits that threaten small businesses and puts the brakes on economic growth."
The Illinois Trial Lawyers Association didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. They had previously downplayed similar reports as meant to prop up corporate interests.
“Individuals who are victims of wrongdoing deserve the right to a legal system where they have a fair chance to hold perpetrators accountable,” J. Matthew Dudley, president of the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association, said in a previous statement.