Illinois’ Supreme Court has previously struck down tort reform measures like medical malpractice damages caps as unconstitutional because they violate our state Constitution’s separation of powers provisions. This has allowed those injured by the negligence of medical professionals to receive the compensation they deserve. Unfortunately a movement is now afoot to strip the people of Illinois of their rights to receive this compensation when they are victims of healthcare provider errors.
Governor’s Transition Report Supports Tort Reform
A new governor just took office in Illinois, and his transition team released a report it calls “Building a Better Illinois.” This report urges the governor to take wrong-headed actions on tort reform. In a section where it describes what the transition team believes the governor should do in his first 100 days in office, one of the recommendations is that he “Publicize the importance of tort reform and the effect of the legal system on the job market.” However, the sole source it cites that supports such a notion is a report from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. While many people believe that this organization is related to their local Chambers of Commerce, it is not. Instead it is a well-funded pro-business lobbying group. The report makes no mention of the devastating effects tort reform measures have on the individual people of Illinois who have been the victims of torts.
What Might Tort Reform Reform in Illinois Look Like?
Damage caps should be off the table in Illinois since our Supreme Court has already held them to be unconstitutional under our state constitution. Despite this holding, pro-tort reform groups are still advocating for caps as the Madison-St. Clair Record reports. These so-called reformers want to cap the damages injured plaintiffs can receive for non-economic damages, the exact type of measure that has already been struck down.
Hopefully our lawmakers will not go down the misguided path of trying to enact a type of law that has already been found to be unconstitutional. However, there are still other extremely dangerous measures lawmakers could take that would substantially impact victims of medical malpractice and other torts’ rights to recover financial damages for the injuries they have suffered. One such measure would have to do with what is called “venue.” In basic terms, the venue of a case is the county in which it is tried. Tort reformers want to limit the right of the people of Illinois to choose where in the state they are going to file suit.
Governor Has Not Taken Action
The new Governor has only been in office for a few days at this point, so it remains to be seen what action, if any, he will actually take on tort reform. While his pre-election rhetoric indicated that he would support tort reform measures, there is still hope that the people of Illinois can persuade him not to focus on a type of policy that would serve to hurt some of Illinois’ most vulnerable-those who have suffered serious injuries and those who survive those who have been killed by the negligence of others.
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