Category Archives: Illinois

Legal reform advocates point to medical malpractice figures in New York, Pennsylvania

ALBANY, N.Y. (Legal Newsline) – Experts who have watched medical malpractice lawsuits skyrocket in states like New York, Rhode Island and New Jersey say lawmakers have made it too easy and attractive to sue and reform must happen. “New Yorkers once again pay more for medical liability than anywhere in America,” Tom Stebbins, executive director of Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York told Legal Newsline. “Sadly, Albany recently made matters worse by approving legislation that expands liability and makes it easier to file lawsuits.” The “2018 Medical Malpractice Payout Analysis” released March 1 by Diederich Health Care, a medical liability insurance and consulting company based in Carbondale, Illinois, includes figures comparing medical malpractice rates among states. Among Northeast states, New York topped the list for the most malpractice cases with a total approximate $617,973,000 in payouts with Pennsylvania second at $342,093,300, and New Jersey third with $267,913,250. The lowest in the Northeast were the District of Columbia with $11,498,500, Delaware with $8,253,250 and Vermont at the bottom with $1,536,500. Among Midwestern states, Illinois was far in the lead with $300,790,050 in payouts with Michigan second at $77,072,200. The lowest Midwestern states were Wisconsin at $13,527,100, North Dakota with $3,505,000 and…

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December 2017 Newsletter

Year-end report sheds light on “Judicial Hellholes” The American Tort Reform Association (ATRA) end-of-year “Judicial Hellholes” report offers a public glimpse at the most unfriendly jurisdictions for those defending themselves against civil litigation, including medical liability lawsuits. At the top of the list this year was Florida, where once-strong medical liability reforms have been continuously rolled back at the expense of patients seeking affordable and accessible care. “This year, thanks to a state high court majority’s barely contained contempt for the policy-making authority of the legislative and executive branches of government, and a notoriously aggressive and sometimes lawless plaintiffs’ bar, Florida earns the ignominious #1 ranking among eight Judicial Hellholes…” said American Tort Reform Association president Tiger Joyce. Also high on the list was St. Louis, where “antiquated rules have made it a favorite of personal-injury lawyers shopping for big-money verdicts” resulting in $300 million in awards since 2015. However, recent changes in state government, including a governor in support of changes to the liability system, do hold promise for much-needed reform in the coming year. To read more about ATRA’s “Judicial Hellholes” executive summary and report on the where physicians and defendants fare the worst when it comes to…

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High Court’s Contempt for Lawmakers’ Authority, Lawsuit Rackets Place Florida atop Latest ‘Judicial Hellholes’ List

WASHINGTON, D.C., December 5, 2017 – The American Tort Reform Foundation issued its 2017-2018 Judicial Hellholes® report today, naming courts in Florida, California, Missouri, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Illinois and Louisiana among the nation’s “most unfair” in their handling of civil litigation. “With both this annual report and a year-round website, our Judicial Hellholes program since 2002 has been documenting troubling developments in jurisdictions where civil court judges systematically apply laws and court procedures in an unfair and unbalanced manner, generally to the disadvantage of defendants,” began American Tort Reform Association president Tiger Joyce. “This year, thanks to a state high court majority’s barely contained contempt for the policy-making authority of the legislative and executive branches of government, and a notoriously aggressive and sometimes lawless plaintiffs’ bar, Florida earns the ignominious #1 ranking among eight Judicial Hellholes, even as authorities have begun to crack down on some of the lawsuit industry’s most obviously fraudulent rackets. “Ranked #2 is perennial hellhole California, where lawmakers, prosecutors and plaintiff-friendly judges inexorably expand civil liability at the expense of businesses, jobseekers and those desperately in need of affordable housing,” Joyce explained. “The good news is the U.S. Supreme Court in June reversed a…

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I-LAW: Voters sent clear message in election – restore fairness to courts

Results of recent judicial elections in southern Illinois demonstrate that voters don’t want personal injury attorneys “ruling the court system,” according to a legal reform advocate. Illinois Lawsuit Abuse Watch executive director Travis Akin pointed to Fifth District Appellate Court races in which Judges John Barberis and James “Randy” Moore were targets of a last minute $1 million attack funded by local asbestos attorneys. But, in spite of negative advertising and mass robo calls, Republicans Barberis and Moore defeated Democrat judges Brad Bleyer and Jo Beth Weber by significant margins, 56 to 44 and 54-46 percent, respectively, in the district’s 37 counties. “Voters rejected the current system of lawsuit abuse in Illinois,” Akin told the Record. “They voted for change. They voted for reform. They voted for fairness in our courts. Voters are tired of Illinois being a destination for lawsuit tourists. They are tired of losing jobs and opportunities to surrounding states. They sent a clear message that they are tired of the gamesmanship in our courts and they want to end the cycle of abuse that has plagued our courts for far too long.” According to I-LAW, Illinois voters are “fed up” with the reputation that the state…

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Illinois’ Court Set to Rule on Liability Limitations

Under fire in the state of Illinois are the statute of limitations for medical liability lawsuits, with the possibility that they could be extended and leave physicians indefinitely vulnerable to medical lawsuit abuse. Currently in Illinois, wrongful death suits must be filed within two years of death, but a recent lawsuit is arguing that the limitation period should begin from the time of discovery. When a trial court upheld dismissing the lawsuit on those grounds, an appellate court agreed with the dismissal but was split in its decision. Now, the case has moved to the Illinois Supreme Court, and the American Medical Association, together with state medical societies, has filed an amicus brief urging the court to retain the existing statute of limitations. “The General Assembly intended to provide the citizens of this state with a limitations period fair to both plaintiffs and defendants,” the brief said. “It balances the need for plaintiffs to bring lawsuits with the defendants’ need to know when their potential liability is extinguished.” Without such a defined period, physicians face uncertain future threats of medical liability lawsuits, and families of true victims will face a less expeditious closing of legitimate claims.

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Court case could extend medical liability

A state supreme court is set to decide whether the two-year statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death lawsuit should start, as it does now, from the time of death or from the moment the plaintiff learns of the circumstances that may have contributed to or caused death. The distinction is the difference between a finite period in which liability claims can be filed and an undetermined longer period. What happened At stake in Moon v. Rhode is whether a complaint brought against a radiologist in a wrongful death lawsuit was filed within the two-year timeline allowed under the Illinois statute of limitations. After complications following surgery at Proctor Hospital in Peoria, Ill., Kathryn Moon died on May 29, 2009. In Feb. 2013, Moon’s estate sent CT radiographs to a diagnostic radiologist who concluded that Clarissa Rhode, MD, had negligently misread the scans which caused or contributed to Moon’s death. Moon’s estate sued Dr. Rhode and her employer in a wrongful death action on March 18, 2013. Relying on Illinois’ Wrongful Death Act, which provides that wrongful death suits must be filed within two years of death, the defendants moved to dismiss. The estate, however, argued that the limitation period should…

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My View: Lawsuit reforms will create jobs in Illinois

Gov. Bruce Rauner’s call for reasonable lawsuit reforms represents a vital step in an economic come back in Illinois. The time for lawsuit reform is long overdue. For years, attempts to enact meaningful lawsuit reform has been met with fierce resistance in the Illinois General Assembly and unfortunately this year is no exception. Illinois Lawsuit Abuse Watch applauds the governor’s commitment to lawsuit reform legislation and urges Illinois residents to call their lawmakers and make their support for the governor’s agenda known to their elected Representatives and Senators. One of the governor’s lawsuit reform measure is a proposal to stop personal injury lawyers from shopping around for the friendliest court jurisdiction, even if the lawsuit has nothing to do with that jurisdiction. This practice, often called “venue shopping,” is all too common in Illinois. For far too long, Illinois has been a magnet for personal injury lawyers and plaintiffs from all over the country who travel to Illinois and clog our courts with junk lawsuits that have nothing to do with Illinois, all in the hopes of striking it rich playing our state’s plaintiff-friendly lawsuit lottery. It’s just common sense to require lawsuits filed in Illinois to have an actual…

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Medical Liability Reform in Illinois

Each year, Illinois loses about half of the physicians who complete a medical residency in our state.  Among those who leave, two thirds cite Illinois’ reputation for lawsuit abuse as an influencing factor. An onerous medical lawsuit climate also forces existing doctors to drop or limit certain high-risk procedures and order more tests than medically necessary, a practice known as “defensive medicine.” States with strong medical liability protections spend less on health care through lower medical liability insurance premiums and decreased spending associated with defensive medicine. They are also more likely to attract and retain a strong physician workforce. Illinois physicians believe in fair compensation for patients who are harmed while receiving medical care.  It is not our intent to impede anyone’s right to file a lawsuit.  However, reforms are needed to ensure Illinoisans’ access to medical care. We urge lawmakers to deliberate on the big-picture health care needs of our state when considering lawsuit reform.

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New Directions in Medical Liability Reform

Medical liability reform has maintained a tenacious hold on the national policy agenda. During the first several years of the 21st century, a malpractice insurance “crisis” prompted vociferous demands by organized medicine and liability insurers for tort reforms to curb litigation costs.1 Many observers anticipated that once the insurance market calmed, so too would calls for reform. Instead, a new force for change emerged — health care reform. Leading up to the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in March 2010, federal liability reforms were contemplated as a means of garnering support for the legislation among congressional Republicans and medical professional organizations. Although no liability-reform provisions survived in the final bill, Congress made clear the need for more experimentation. The final legislation authorized $50 million for states and health care systems to test new approaches to the resolution of medical-injury disputes. This authorization supplemented the $23 million that the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) awarded in 2010 for projects to advance new approaches to medical-injury compensation and patient safety. As policymakers’ attention has shifted from winning passage of the health reform bill to determining how to implement and pay for it, medical liability reform has…

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