The Metro-East Lawsuit Climate
Illinois trails the rest of the country when it comes to legal fairness — and a big reason is the abusive lawsuit climate of Madison and St. Clair counties. These two counties regularly rank among the most abusive jurisdictions in America — and a recent survey named Madison County as the fifth-most unfair legal jurisdiction in America.
The Metro-East Asbestos Lawsuit Industry
Asbestos litigation from around the country flows into Madison County. Between 2006 and 2008, the number of asbestos filings in the county doubled, and continued to increase in 2009.
The Institute for Legal Reform has released a landmark study — Litigating in the Field of Dreams: Asbestos Cases in Madison County — that shed light on asbestos litigation in the Metro-East. Please watch this brief video in which ILR’s Harold Kim discusses this new study:
Madison County’s Cash-for-Trials Scandal
Madison County’s court system was recently rocked by news that Madison County Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder was removed from administering the court’s asbestos docket. The move came a week after her campaign committee received $30,000 in contributions from asbestos plaintiffs’ lawyers whose firms had received “trial slots” on the court’s 2013 docket.
This “cash for trials” scandal shone a spotlight on the county’s long-standing and troubling practice of assigning asbestos trial slots to plaintiffs' lawyers rather than to individual plaintiffs.
Amidst this controversy, Madison County Associate Judge Clarence Harrison recently announced that he would end the practice of advanced asbestos trial settings. By ending a practice that effectively put Madison County court time up for sale, Judge Harrison has taken an important first step towards cleaning up the court’s misguided approach to resolving asbestos lawsuits.
Please read these news stories to learn more about this scandal:
- Madison County, Illinois Ends Controversial Asbestos Docket System (ILR Statement)
- New Judge Revamps Asbestos Court (Belleville News-Democrat)
- U.S. Chamber Statement on Madison County, Illinois Judge Barbara Crowder’s Removal from the Asbestos Docket (ILR Statement)
- Crowder Removed from Asbestos Docket (Madison County Record)
- Crowder sets 2013 asbestos docket; Three local firms get 82 percent of trial slots (Madison County Record)