Missouri applauded for tort reform; reports says Illinois lags

Associated Press
Monday, March 27, 2006

The president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Monday applauded Missouri's efforts to limit the amount of money juries can award in wrongful death and medical malpractice cases and criticized Illinois and other states for moving too slowly on reforms.
The Chamber released its annual "legal fairness" ranking of the states. The survey of 1,400 attorneys by Harris Interactive ranked Delaware, Nebraska, Virginia, Iowa and Connecticut at the top of the list. The bottom five: West Virginia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Hawaii. Illinois ranks sixth worst, Kansas the 15th best.
"There's still quite a ways to go before we can rid our courts of lawsuit abuse and correct the deep flaws in our legal system," U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue said at the news conference Monday in St. Louis.
Consumer groups, including the New York-based Center for Justice & Democracy, call the study a dishonest and unfair effort to limit awards for deserving litigants. The organization said among those surveyed are in-house lawyers for major corporations.
"These surveys reflect nothing more than the Chamber's political agenda to limit lawsuits and accountability for corporate wrongdoers," the organization said in a news release.

In Illinois, the state's failure to consider legislation limiting where lawsuits could be filed hurts the state's economy, Donohue said. But the Center for Justice & Democracy disputed that.
"The U.S. Chamber's attack on our business environment is totally inconsistent with the facts here on the ground," said the Center's Amber Hard in Chicago.

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