Great for business

Chicago Sun-Times
Sunday, May 27, 2001

Joseph Bast's column (May 17) lobbying the Illinois Supreme Court to limit consumer rights is long on rhetoric and short on fact. Bast alleges that had Boeing known of the anti-business climate of Illinois' state courts, the company may have gone elsewhere. Bast must not read many business publications. Fortune magazine (Nov. 27, 2000) rated Chicago third-best out of all cities to do business. Chicago won Boeing because it is a great place to do business.

If relocation decisions were based on "tort reform," Texas would be the logical choice. For instance, in 1998, a jury in San Antonio ordered the Diamond Shamrock refinery corporation to pay widow Donna Hall $42 million for the death of her husband. The jury wanted to punish Shamrock for knowingly using unsafe equipment. But tort reform laws cut Hall's award to $ 200,000. Such draconian measures let wrongdoers off the hook and leave victims in the lurch. And apparently they do nothing to attract employers like Boeing -- a report released by the Center for Justice and Democracy revealed that liability laws are irrelevant to business location decisions.

Bast goes on to lobby the Illinois Supreme Court to restrict consumer rights, and points to Avery vs. State Farm as an example of an anti business court decision. Interestingly, Bast fails to spell out the details of that case in which State Farm deceived motorists by repairing autos with inferior parts. Every car owner wants a safe car -- this is hardly a "frivolous" lawsuit. It is clear that Bast should not be making consumer policy any more than he should be trusted to repair your car.

Robert R. Dixon, Research Director, Coalition for Consumer Rights

For a copy of the complete article, contact CJ&D.

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