Yearly Confusion: The Useless “Judicial Hellhole Report”

The start of the New Year comes with yearly traditions: a re-commitment to hit the gym, new seasons of favorite TV shows, and many other annual habits. The new year also means that public bodies–Congress and the Illinois General Assembly–will soon be back at it, debating the big issues of the day. Similarly, all those special interest groups that have agendas to pursue often use the end of the last year or beginning of the new year as a time to pump out their messages.

On that note, without missing a beat, a so-called tort reform groups released their annual “Judicial Hellhole Report.” As we have often explained, this “report” is thin on truth, staggeringly limited in perspective, and of virtually no use. This particular annual package is released by the American “Tort Reform” Association every year, with little changes from year to year.

The alleged purpose of the report is to label certain areas of the community for recent legal decisions that emanate there, mostly related to medical malpractice and consumer rights cases. In short, it is an attempt to generate sympathy for large corporations who are required to pay for the consequences of their actions when they harm ordinary community members.

ITLA President on Misguided Medical Malpractice Claims
At the start of the year, the president of the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association (ITLA) wrote a letter to the editor that was published in the Jacksonville Journal-Courier. He perceptively noted that the entire purpose of the judicial hell hole report was to “stoke prejudice and public fear as well as create mis-perception about how the legal system works.”

On the mis-education side, reports like these distort the reality of the justice system in a bald attempt to confuse residents about how it all works. The report creates the impression that earning millions of dollars via a lawsuit is as simple as filling out a few sheets of paper and filing it with the court. The notion of “rampant” frivolous lawsuits is puffed up in an attempt to garner sympathy for chronic defendants.

The truth however, which is obvious to anyone who actually works in the civil justice system, is that many safeguards are in place to root out any frivolous lawsuits that actually are filed. Civil litigation can drag out for years and defendants in these cases have many opportunities to get the matter thrown out altogether if the facts do not line up and show liability.

The bottom line is that American citizens should rightly be proud of the system that we have, where even ordinary community members are able to seek accountability from the largest companies when those companies act negligently and cause serious harm. It is critical that we stand up against the underhanded techniques used by those same special interests groups seeking to confuse the public about the system in a bare attempt to avoid liability and increase their own bottom line.

If you or someone you know may have been harmed by the actions of another, including a hospital, doctor, nurse, or other medical professional, please contact our medical malpractice lawyers to see how we can help.

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