Wednesday, August 22, 2007

ICJL: There They Go Again

The new scorecard from the Illinois Civil Justice League shows just how extreme and out of touch their pro-insurance industry, pro-polluter, anti-corporate responsibility agenda really is.

Looking at the positions that the ICJL has taken on legislation, even by their own admission of the measures' impact, their scorecard should make us all wary of their extreme agenda:

Bills the ICJL opposes:

HB 511-FOIA Public Settlements.
This bill would make municipality and public agency settlements public under the Freedom of Information Act.
[yeah, why SHOULD taxpayers know where their money is going?]

HB 1121-Judicial Campaign Financing .
Establishes the Illinois Public Campaign Financing Fund as an alternative source of campaign financing for Illinois Appellate and Supreme Court candidates.
[Hmmm...wonder why the ICJL, which has given millions to Republican, pro-insurance industry judicial candidates, is for allowing big money to influence judicial campaigns?]

HB 1798-Wrongful Death Act-Damages.
This bill allows the plaintiff to sue the defendant for damages under the Wrongful Death Act for grief, sorrow, and mental suffering.
[Ironically, the ICJL didn't oppose GOP legislation passed a couple of years ago that provides the same compensation if someone kills your pet, but opposes wrongful death benefits if someone kills your kid. Murnane must be a dog lover.]

SB 20-Jury Expansion.
This bill would include Illinois taxpayers who claim an Earned Income Tax Credit into the list of potential jurors.
[God forbid we let poor people on juries]

SB 222-Judicial Campaign Reform
This bill would establish guidelines for the public financing of Illinois Supreme Court and Appellate Court campaigns. It also sets mandatory contribution limits with respect to all judicial election campaigns.
[Yeah, see HB 1121 above]

SB 486-Class Action Residual.
This bill provides that residual funds left over from paying the class in a class action settlement shall be distributed to one or more charities by court approval.
[I can only conclude that the ICJL's position is that if Wal-Mart manages to drag out lawsuits resulting from their distribution of tens of thousands of lead-tainted baby bibs across America long enough that the children actually die before the case is settled, then Wal-Mart should be rewarded by getting the money back. That's corporate irresponsibility, ICJL-style]

SB 747/SB 1027-Services Rendered
This bill, referred to as the "Plaintiffs' Windfall Bill," is similar to legislation introduced last year. It would require that defendant's pay to the plaintiffs the full bill for expenses, even if the plaintiffs themselves received a discount on those expenses. In essence, it allows compensation to the plaintiff (and their lawyers) for amounts which were not actually lost.
[Instead, the ICJL wants to reward negligent defendants when an injured citizen gets a discount from their hospital]

SB 1296-Liability Remaining Parties
This bill changes the formula for determining apportionment of fault by dividing fault only among the remaining parties in the case. It excludes parties who have settled prior to trial from the equation, allowing for plaintiffs to sue the deepest pockets after settling with those more at fault.
[Instead, the ICJL wants defendants to remain on trial even after they've been dismissed from a case, and even allow juries to award damages against them, Sounds fair to me. Not.]

SB 1501-Class Action Residual
This bill is similar in nature to SB 486. Provides that after class members are paid, any residue plus interest shall be paid to nonprofit organizations that benefit the class or facilitate healthcare services in Illinois.
[See SB 486 above.]

The ICJL agenda is so extreme that not even the Republican Party supports it.

In the Illinois Senate:

Not ONE single Republican scored 100%, or even above 85%.

Minority Leader Frank Watson only scored 83%.

Converting their scores to grades, here's how Senate Republicans faired:

A (90-100%): 0
B (81 - 89%): 5
B- (80%): 4
C (71-79%): 1
C- (70%): 0
D (61-69%): 3
D- (60%): 1
F (59% or lower): 4

Over in the Illinois House:

Only one Republican scored above 80%, and House Minority Leader Tom Cross earned a B-.

14 House Republicans scored 25%, including those well-known "Friends of Trial Lawyers":

- Bill Black (17%, and tied for the lowest score of any Republican)
- Beth Coulson (25%)
- Roger Eddy (25%)
- David Leitch (25%)
- Bill & Jerry Mitchell (25%)
- Ruth Munson (25%)
- Rich Myers (20%)
- Aaron Schock (25%)

I guess we now know why the ICJL required a 75% or better to score as a "Friend of Fairness", but lowered the bar for "Friend of Trial Lawyer" arbitrarily to 15%. Calling 14 House Republicans "Friends of Trial Lawyers" probably wouldn't have gone over too big with Tom Cross.

Republican-turned-Democrat Bob Pritchard's score of 67% was better than 35 of his former House Republican colleagues.

And finally, the grades for House Republicans:

A - 0
B: 1
B-: 1
C: 8
C-: 0
D: 2
D-: 2
F: 31


Skeeter 3:48 PM  

Have to side with the ILJ on this one. A lot of what are listed are very bad.

The double recovery one in particular is noteworthy.

Until recently, if your doctor accepted money from an insurer as full and final payment of a bill, that is all a plaintiff could recover. The idea is that a paid bill is presumed reasonable. The doctor accepted that for his services, so it must be reasonable.

Instead, the plaintiff's bar wants a rule where if the doctor makes an outrageous opening offer for a bill ($100,000.00 for surgery), the insurer pays $10,000, which the doctor accepts, then the plaintiff can CLAIM the full $90,000 extra as damages, and keep that amount.

Basically, it rewards plaintiffs for choosing doctors that send out massive bills with no hopes of getting paid.

In light of the State Farm fraud lawsuit of a few years ago, the opportunities for abuse are wide open.

Anonymous,  9:22 AM  

The ICJL is a joke and was recently taken to task for misinformation that they were trying to spread on this very blog.

Jeff Wartman 9:22 AM  

Just another reason to support Libertarians:

End corporate handouts and special treatment.

Anonymous,  2:55 PM  

and what grade does the poster get for describing Bob Pritchard as a Republican-turned-Democrat? i bet that would be news to him.

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