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ITLA wins again

Friday, Jan 15, 2021

* I’ve been telling subscribers about this bill, but here’s Center Square

Illinois lawmakers also sent Pritzker legislation that would grant prejudgement interest of 9% annually for wrongful death or personal injury cases. Illinois has historically not granted interest in judgments of this kind.

Supporters, including the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association, said the bill would ensure defendants and insurers no longer benefit from delaying resolution of meritorious injury cases.

Rather than accepting responsibility for their wrongful conduct and fairly compensating injured people or their families, insurance companies, corporations and other wrongdoers frequently deny timely justice to those injured or killed due to negligence,” ITLA President Larry Rodgers Jr. said. “If signed by the governor, HB 3360 will end these maneuvers and more fully and fairly compensate victims for the harm they suffer. Defendants and insurers will no longer benefit from delaying resolution of meritorious injury cases that will eventually go to trial. The wrongdoers will now be liable for their delay tactics in the form of prejudgment interest on all elements of damages awarded by a jury.”

Civil justice reform advocates called the measure one final parting gift from outgoing House Speaker Michael Madigan to the state’s trial lawyers.

“Speaker Madigan is a known ally of the state’s trial bar,” said American Tort Reform Association president Tiger Joyce. “It seems he’s hoping to give this parting gift to his trial lawyer pals in his last days of leadership and simultaneously set up his colleague Sen. [Don] Harmon for future political aspirations. I implore Gov. Pritzker to veto it and instead look to his neighboring governors and pass much-needed liability reforms.”

Future political aspirations? Where did he pull that out of? Maybe just stick to the bill’s merits, dude. You have a decent argument.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Sue - Friday, Jan 15, 21 @ 11:20 am:

    And people wonder why Companies leave Illinois

  2. - Perrid - Friday, Jan 15, 21 @ 11:21 am:

    ” 3360 will end these maneuvers and more fully and fairly compensate victims for the harm they suffer” … and also give the lawyers a bigger paycheck too, but I’m sure that has absolutely no impact on their desire for the bill to pass. Nope, over there in the ITLA they’re all saints doing God’s work helping their fellow man, yes sir.

    Starting the clock on interest before the defendants have any reason to pay up is absurd. It’s punishing defendants for utilizing their rights to take cases to court. And it’s not just going to be huge companies or employers who are affected by this. I’m generally on the side saying all corporations are evil, but come on now.

  3. - Homebody - Friday, Jan 15, 21 @ 11:34 am:

    “liability reform” has always been code for “protect the pocketbooks of the rich but negligent at the expense of people who actually got hurt.”

    If Tiger Joyce wants real tort reform, maybe we should have a modern medical system that doesn’t put injured people massively into debt. That is the real reason personal injury litigation is such a big issue in the US and literally nowhere else in the world.

  4. - hisgirlfriday - Friday, Jan 15, 21 @ 11:36 am:

    To the politics side:

    Hope it was worth it because I really think this bill is gonna lead to a Republican majority on the Illinois Supreme Court. Or maybe it was pushed through based on a preexisting expectation that the Court is soon flipping?

    The amount of money corps are going to pour into flipping the 3rd Appellate District seat, and holding the other GOP Supreme Court seats up in 2022, will be astronomical, especially if corps have a bunch of extra political money sitting in their pockets due to stepping back from Congressional donations in the wake of Jan. 6. Hope the elected Dems in the vicinity of these races are more prepared in 2022 for another possible “Kilbride effect” like the one that almost retired Cheri Bustos in 2020.

    To the practical side:

    As usual with last-minute legislation, this one is rather unclear and is gonna need a lot of sorting out from the Courts in how it calculates when the pre-judgment interest comes into effect.

    It also creates a possible windfall for trial lawyers delaying their own cases and a windfall from court delays out of anyone’s control like COVID-19 preventing so many civil trials and other court functions from going forward.

  5. - Homebody - Friday, Jan 15, 21 @ 11:38 am:


    == Starting the clock on interest before the defendants have any reason to pay up is absurd. It’s punishing defendants for utilizing their rights to take cases to court. ==

    The problem is right now all the pressure is in the other direction. Plaintiffs in personal injury cases may have mounting bills, be out of work, etc. Insurance companies and large defendants have every incentive to drag cases out, even if they know they will be ultimately liable, just to pressure plaintiffs to accept smaller settlements.

    The biggest problem in having a functional personal injury/tort system (in the absence of a sane, first world healthcare system) is that the entire process is designed intentionally or unintentionally, to be overly cumbersome.

    I’ve been an attorney for more than a decade, and I have never seen an attorney be punished for delay tactics, even though 1) it is ostensibly an ethical violation, and 2) everyone knows when people are doing it.

  6. - Anyone Remember - Friday, Jan 15, 21 @ 11:40 am:

    Sue -

    You’d prefer Indiana, where Worker’s Comp only lasts 500 weeks? Even if you’re permanently disabled.

  7. - essentially working - Friday, Jan 15, 21 @ 11:43 am:

    Good to see we have our priorities straight…

  8. - DuPage Moderate - Friday, Jan 15, 21 @ 11:46 am:

    This will have disastrous consequences. First, how do you charge 9% pre-judgment interest on a claim that has a relatively subjective value? Second, this will actually push trial lawyers to trial so that they can obtain a judgment so as it tack on the 9% interest. This will do nothing to short-cut litigation - it will only serve to further line the pockets of the trial lawyers.

  9. - Crash - Friday, Jan 15, 21 @ 11:47 am:

    The idea that defendants deliberately delay is such a tired line. It just isn’t true.

    Defense counsel actually has every incentive to move more quickly. If you are billing hourly, you want to get those hours in. If it is by phase (pleadings, written discovery etc.) you want to get that phase done so you can bill for it.

    Delay hurts defense counsel. Insurers want cases moved faster.

    If you are going to go that route, then punish plaintiffs for doing things like failing to answer discovery on time or failing to produce their clients for depositions.

  10. - Put the fun in unfunded - Friday, Jan 15, 21 @ 12:01 pm:

    Will there be some civil equivalent of the speedy trial act? Typically a case takes three years in Cook County. As WBEZ reports, there hasn’t been a jury trial in a Cook County courtroom in nine months. Defendants and insurers can’t force judges to speed things up, so they will face a roughly 30% automatic penalty.

  11. - Bigtwich - Friday, Jan 15, 21 @ 12:09 pm:

    A 1996 Texas aw Review article cites a 1986 source to state that at least 32 states permitted or required payment of prejudgment interest on personal injury or wrongful death actions.

  12. - Telly - Friday, Jan 15, 21 @ 12:12 pm:

    - hisgirlfriday-

    The Supreme Court map is going to be redrawn (for the first time in years) to reflect population shift to the collar counties. The districts outside of Cook are required to be similar in population size to each other. They no longer are. A DuPage/Will County district and a Lake-to-Winnebago district are going to be very competitive for the Dems.

  13. - DuPage - Friday, Jan 15, 21 @ 12:14 pm:

    This is a good idea. It will give an incentive to fairly settle cases quickly. As it is now, insurance companies like to hang on to the money as long as possible, delay, delay, delay, then finally offer a settlement “on the courthouse steps”. If cases are settled early on, it would help unclog the courts, reducing delays. This would speed up cases that do end up in court.

  14. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Friday, Jan 15, 21 @ 12:20 pm:

    === The idea that defendants deliberately delay is such a tired line. It just isn’t true. ===

    Everyone who has ever called the customer service line for an insurance company knows that you are wrong.

  15. - Socially DIstant Watcher - Friday, Jan 15, 21 @ 12:42 pm:

    Whatchu talkin bout, Telly? Not only is it not required that judicial districts ever be redrawn, the judges who serve in them are elected to fixed terms.

  16. - don the legend - Friday, Jan 15, 21 @ 12:56 pm:

    ==If Tiger Joyce wants real tort reform, maybe we should have a modern medical system that doesn’t put injured people massively into debt. That is the real reason personal injury litigation is such a big issue in the US and literally nowhere else in the world.==

    Homebody is exactly right.

  17. - SD ue - Friday, Jan 15, 21 @ 12:57 pm:

    Anyone - this bill has nothing to do with workers comp. it is as n egregious move by the ILTA as Madigan exits to impose a 9 percent per annum bonus onto of a plaintiffs award. If it’s cost of living to compensate a plaintiff why not use the 10 year treasury rate. 9 percent is to benefit Madigan’s hand maidens. Pritzker needs to veto this but he won’t as he benefits from the same donors

  18. - Telly - Friday, Jan 15, 21 @ 12:59 pm:

    == Watchu talkin bout, Telly? ==

    Article VI, Section 2 of the Illinois Constitution.

    “The State is divided into five Judicial Districts for the selection of Supreme and Appellate Court Judges. The First Judicial District consists of Cook County. The remainder of the State shall be divided by law into four Judicial Districts of substantially equal population, each of which shall be compact and composed of contiguous counties.”

    And BTW, legislators are elected to fixed terms, too. That doesn’t stop the redrawing of a legislative map.

  19. - OneMan - Friday, Jan 15, 21 @ 1:03 pm:

    9% who are they, the state borrowing money? I suspect this gives an advantage to the folks who loan money against potential settlements (not sure if that is legal in IL)

  20. - South Side Lawyer - Friday, Jan 15, 21 @ 1:05 pm:

    Insurance companies delay paying on claims for as long as possible. Imagine you are injured and a have $20k case. The claim gets submitted and the insurance company knows it’s going to have to pay out. So the insurance company “reserves” or sets aside $20k and waits as long as possible to pay it out. If they pay out three years from now they have earned all the interest and investment gains from that $20k. In a good market that could be $5-8k. Not a trivial amount of money when multiplied by the number of claims.

    Meanwhile, the injured party is being hounded by medical debt collectors, losing time at work, and being dragged through the court system, all so the insurer can enjoy the investment income from the money they will eventually pay out.

    This bill levels the playing field by removing the insurer’s incentive to drag things out.

  21. - Anyone Remember - Friday, Jan 15, 21 @ 1:21 pm:

    Sue - Was asking what you wanted. Is there a state you think does it right? If so, please elucidate.

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