Report puts Cook County on list of nation's 'worst judicial hellholes'
A report from the American Tort Reform Foundation cements Cook County’s dubious distinction as a desired destination for personal injury lawyers and plaintiffs looking to hit it big in the game of lawsuit lottery, naming the county to a list of the nation’s “Worst Judicial Hellholes.”
Researchers defined a “judicial hellhole” as “a place where judges systematically apply laws and court procedures in an unfair and unbalanced manner”; and in a recent release, Illinois Lawsuit Abuse Watch (I-LAW) Executive Director Travis Akin insisted Cook County serves as a classic example of such a place.
“Christmas comes but once a year for most of us, but for the personal injury lawyers who have turned the Cook County courthouse into their own personal ATM machine, it’s Christmas every day,” Akin said in a press release. “Our judges have allowed greedy personal injury lawyers to turn Cook County courts into their own personally profitable playground.”
Akin said personal injury lawyers have become so adept at the game they now regularly target potential clients with costly TV ads and billboards aimed at encouraging them to pursue legal action in the form of “frivolous lawsuits that clog Cook County courts and delay justice for people with legitimate claims.”
In one recent instance, Akin said, a personal injury lawyer moved to file suit in Cook County against Walgreens, charging that the retailer mistakenly applied the since-repealed soda pop tax to unsweetened sparkling water.
“Here we have someone looking to cash in on a mistake that only cost him pennies and was quickly corrected by Walgreens,” he said in the release. “If frivolous lawsuits filed against hometown employers like Walgreens somehow succeed, the personal injury lawyers stand to win millions, while pop drinkers win pennies, and Walgreens, which employs tens of thousands of people in Illinois, may have to reduce the number of jobs here or raise prices for consumers.”
Akin added even when companies prevail after the junk lawsuits are filed, the cost of fighting all the frivolous litigation causes companies to raise prices, ending in a “lawsuit tax” that’s made it harder for all Cook County residents to survive.
According to the I-Law release, studies have found the so-called “lawsuit tax” costs every resident in the state an average of over $800 per year, or over $3,000 for a family of four.
“Judges can create jobs by stopping lawsuit abuse in their courts,” Akin said. “If we want to keep Walgreens based in Cook County and attract Amazon and the 50,000 jobs they will bring, we need judges who will not allow Cook County to remain a ‘Judicial Hellhole.’”