Letter to the Editor: Protecting injured Illinois consumers

Chicago Tribune
Saturday, October 27, 2007

To the Editor:
This is in response to "Personal-injury lawyers adopt stealth campaign" (Commentary, Oct. 23), by Edward Murnane, president of the Illinois Civil Justice League, which berates pro-consumer legislation that helps Illinois patients injured by medical malpractice, a group for whom Murnane apparently lacks any interest or compassion. What does this horrible law do? It allows a jury, which has already found a hospital or doctor responsible for committing malpractice, to get a complete picture of what that death means to a family. Illinois used to have a narrow and antiquated view of a value of a person's life.
The other legislation that Murnane opposes would, for example, help families sickened by toxic pollution. If a bankrupt company that once dumped toxic waste is unable to compensate the sick and suffering families, the law would ensure that other toxic polluters who contributed to the same waste dump pick up the tab so families receive fair compensation to which a judge or jury says they are entitled.
It is an important bill that should pass.
The Illinois public suffered a devastating loss in 2005 when politicians limited the power of local juries by capping patients' compensation in medical malpractice cases. This is a cruel law that limits compensation for the most severely injured, including catastrophically injured children. Caps apply no matter how egregious the misconduct or devastating the injury. For some, this cap will result in untold suffering and economic devastation.
What Murnane and his cohorts would like for you to forget is that victims are the ones who innocently suffer.
He would also like you to forget the broad discrepancy between the financial influence of injured consumers and the attorneys who represent them, and the practically infinite financial capabilities of corporate interests that seek immunity from lawsuits.
Jason Held
Staff director
Center for Justice and Democracy-Illinois

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