IL Lawmakers Rush to Amend Bill for Trial Lawyers’ Gain, Ignore COVID-19 Liability Protections

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ATRA’s statement on Amendment 1 to Illinois House Bill 3360

Sen. Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) is pushing a last-minute amendment to House Bill 3360 through the Illinois General Assembly which will create an unfair and abusive change to long-standing Illinois law.

“State lawmakers have failed to act on legislation providing a long-term solution to protect small businesses or healthcare workers from frivolous and costly litigation related to COVID-19,” ATRA President Tiger Joyce said. “Instead, legislators have opted to rush the important work of legislating by shoving through last-minute amendments and have wrongly prioritized policies which will only serve to benefit the state’s behemoth trial bar.” 

Eighty-four percent of Illinoisans’ believe that healthcare workers should not have to consider the risk of being sued while fighting COVID-19 and 80% of Illinoisans do not believe their lawmakers are doing enough to combat lawsuit abuse.

House Speaker Michael J. Madigan (D-Chicago) just yesterday made the shocking announcement that he is suspending his campaign for House Speaker. 

“Speaker Madigan is a known ally of the state’s trial bar,” Joyce said. “It seems he’s hoping to give this parting gift to his trial lawyer pals in his last days of leadership and simultaneously set up his colleague Sen. Harmon for future political aspirations.”

This amendment to the Mortgage Foreclosure Article of the Code of Civil Procedure creates new allowances for damages. Like New York, Arkansas, and a number of other states, Illinois generally does not allow a personal injury claimant to recover interest on his or her losses. With no justification, this amendment not only would reverse Illinois law that has stood for many decades, it does so in ways that are particularly unfair and illogical. It would open up defendants to tremendous financial exposure at a time when most businesses across the state already are struggling. 

Illinois’s Cook, Madison & St. Clair Counties are ranked the No. 8 worst Judicial Hellholes in the country, according to the American Tort Reform Foundation. Excessive tort costs in Illinois are some of the most expensive in the country, imposing a “tort tax” of $761.81 on each resident and resulting in a loss of nearly 100,000 jobs.

“We urge lawmakers in Illinois to rightly prioritize COVID-19 aid and protection for small businesses from frivolous lawsuits, rather than pet projects for plaintiffs’ lawyers” Joyce said. “In the unfortunate circumstance this bill ends up on the governor’s desk, we implore him to veto and instead look to follow his neighboring governors and pass much-needed liability reforms.”

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