Trial Lawyers’ Rush Amendment Passes IL House in Early Morning Hours, Heads to Governor

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

The Illinois House passed a rushed, last-minute amendment to House Bill 3360 early this morning. The bill, as amended, will create an unfair and abusive change to long-standing Illinois law and now heads to Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) for his consideration.

“We urge the governor to veto this rushed and misguided bill,” ATRA President Tiger Joyce said. “Given the state’s economic standing, we hope the governor will seek solutions to create a stronger economy – and not push the state deeper into disrepair.”

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.

“State lawmakers have failed to provide a long-term solution to protect small businesses or healthcare workers from frivolous and costly litigation related to COVID-19,” Joyce said. “Instead they opted to wrongly prioritize policies which will only serve to benefit the state’s behemoth trial bar.” 

Sen. Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) sponsored the 11th-hour amendment, which was introduced around the time House Speaker Michael J. Madigan (D-Chicago) announced he would suspend 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. 

“The General Assembly hurried their important work of legislating and shoved through this last-minute amendment,” Joyce said. “I implore Gov. Pritzker to veto it and instead look to his neighboring governors and pass much-needed liability reforms.” 

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.

“Heading into the regular session, we urge Illinois’s lawmakers to rightly prioritize COVID-19 aid and protection for small businesses from frivolous lawsuits, rather than pet projects for plaintiffs’ lawyers” Joyce said. 

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