‘Judicial Hellholes’ Report Names Cook County as 2nd Worst

Date: December 05, 2023

Ranking Equals Billions in Lost Income in Illinois

NFIB Regional Director for Illinois, Charles Owens, says the American Tort Reform Foundation’s latest Judicial Hellholes report highlights the need for legislative action to balance the scale of justice in Cook County. CLICK HERE to read the full report.

The organization ranked Cook No. 2 on its annual list of Judicial Hellholes, citing the prevalence of no-injury lawsuits and a Supreme Court that incentivizes more filing. ATRF estimates that lawsuit abuse and excessive tort costs will drive up the costs of goods and services and lead to billions of dollars of economic activity. ATRA’s estimates are staggering and it’s not just small business owners who are at risk. According to the report’s findings:

  • $1689 annual tort tax on every person in Illinois
  • Loss of more than 202,000 jobs in Illinois and more than 187,000 jobs in Cook County alone
  • $2.4 billion loss in personal income for residents in Cook County

“This is not a list you want to land on,” said Charles Owens, NFIB Regional Director for Illinois. “Cook County has a bad reputation for being very friendly to predatory lawyers who target the vulnerable and unsuspecting small business owners. Illinois is among the bad companies of New York and California with the most food and beverage class action lawsuits in the country. Lawyers are aware of the plaintiff-friendly consumer laws and spend millions of dollars in advertising to lure clients they can use to file lawsuits that garner millions of dollars from unsuspecting small business owners.”

In 2022, trial lawyers spent $39.98 million to air more than 462,000 ads offering legal services across Illinois media markets. Of that total, Chicago accounted for 58% and in the Chicago media market, 30% of all television ads are local legal services ads.

This means that a small business who follows every single local building code and ordinance could still fall victim to a so called “nuclear” verdict. Personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits are big bucks: Cook County’s Circuit Court accounted for two-thirds of Illinois’ verdicts with payouts of $10 million and more. In 2023 alone, five nuclear lawsuits, mostly connected to medical liability, totaling $225 million.

Lawmakers also contributed to the problem. Disguised as “safety,” the legislation, signed by Governor Pritzker, could result in the elimination of ridesharing options such as Uber and Lyft and earning opportunities for thousands of people in Illinois.

“Small mom-and-pop shops can’t afford a team of lawyers to defend them against fraudulent claims or the ability to absorb the cost to settle a lawsuit. Just one meritless lawsuit could mean the end for countless small businesses across the state,” said Owens.

Related Content: Small Business News | Illinois

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