Ryan Scandal Highlights Importance of Civil Justice System

Thursday, September 7, 2006

For Release
September 7, 2006

For more information: Joanne Doroshow or Laurie Beacham, CJ&D
212/267-2801 or

Mark Fraley, CJ&D Illinois

Ryan Scandal Highlights Importance of Illinois’Civil Justice System

Chicago, IL – The bribery scheme for which former Secretary of State and Governor George Ryan has now been sentenced, may never have been exposed had it not been for Illinois’ civil justice system, according to Illinois consumer group Center for Justice & Democracy.

As described in CJ&D’s seminal report, Lifesavers: CJ&D's Guide to Lawsuits That Protect Us All, during the civil case brought by Rev. Duane Scott and Jane Willis, who lost their six children in a car crash, whistleblowers revealed a bribery scheme involving the sale of commercial driver’s licenses run through Ryan’s Secretary of State’s office. (Attorney Joseph A. Power, Jr. represented the Willis’s.) The driver of the truck who had caused the Willis crash had obtained his license by bribing the Secretary of State’s office. This discovery fueled a probe that led to the convictions of 79 state officials and truckers involved in a broad licenses-for-bribes scheme. “The Willis’ lawsuit helped expose corruption in Illinois’ highest offices” said Mark Fraley, CJ&D-IL’s acting director. “Moreover, it made our roads safer, saving lives.”

Lifesavers focuses on over 80 lawsuits, including several Illinois cases, brought by injured consumers that have saved millions of lives and prevented innumerable injuries. Joanne Doroshow, CJ&D's Executive Director, said, "Time and again, lawsuits have caused culpable manufacturers, polluters, hospitals and other entities, including corrupt public officials, to stop their reckless behavior or misconduct."

Said Fraley, " Big corporations and their front groups have launched a massive public relations and lobbying effort to persuade Illinois lawmakers to block injured consumers' access to the courts by claiming personal injury lawsuits are 'frivolous' or 'lack common sense.' Lifesavers stands as irrefutable evidence that far from 'lacking common sense,' lawsuits save lives, and we as a society would suffer tremendously if our civil justice system were weakened in any significant respect."

Among the cases examined in Lifesavers are the following:

* An Illinois woman was blinded in both eyes when a can of Drano exploded before she had a chance to open it. During the trial it was revealed that the Dracket Company, Drano’s manufacturer, knew that the caps were put on too loosely yet chose to ignore the warnings. After the incident and lawsuit, Dracket redesigned the can with a safer lid.

* A 41-year-old testicular cancer patient in Illinois, who had a 90 to 95% chance of survival, was given an overdose of medication during chemotherapy. Hospital records showed the prescribing doctor wrote the wrong dosage and the administering nurses failed to double-check the prescription. The overdose caused several complications leading to his death one month later. After the incident and lawsuit, the hospital implemented new policies to ensure that doctors and nurses better document and cross-check medication orders. Lifesavers can be downloaded from CJ&D's website, at http://centerjd.org or obtained by contacting CJ&D.

Join Our Fight!

The Center for Justice & Democracy is the only national consumer organization in the country exclusively dedicated to protecting our civil justice system. If you'd like more information, please contact us.

Connect with us