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Madison County's civil justice system protects against big business

Imagine living next door to a big business that just opened up. If your new neighbor operates its business cleanly and conscientiously, you will appreciate the contributions it is making to the local economy. Imagine, however, that the business is polluting and causes you to become ill, or that it dumps dangerous products with asbestos into the local commerce. In this type of situation, you would want to rely on a strong civil justice system to seek compensation for your injuries.

Madison, Cook, McLean and St. Clair counties are lucky enough to have such a strong civil justice system. These counties provide an equitable forum for those injured by big business (or anyone else, for that matter) to bring a lawsuit and potentially win. These counties refuse to allow any one interest group to dominate their courts.

This independence, however, has irked some big business advocates, including the Illinois Lawsuit Abuse Watch, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Illinois Civil Justice League and the American Tort Reform Association. According to the Southern, these groups are funded and supported by big business. These organizations have spent millions to mislabel and stigmatize independent counties as "judicial hellholes."

In fact, one of the spokespersons for these groups attacked a court after it found for a family who lost a loved one to mesothelioma. While the spokesperson didn't spend any time in the courtroom, he had no qualms with declaring there was no evidence to support the verdict.

Businesses and corporations are important. They drive money into a community and provide much needed jobs. Businesses cannot, however, be allowed to injure the community through negligent and dangerous activities without expecting to face legal consequences. It is important that individual consumers and employees have a strong civil justice system to hold businesses accountable for their actions.

Source: Southern, "Lawyer says counties not 'judicial hellholes,'" Jerry Latherow, 12 July 2011

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