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ITLA President: State courts provide equal justice, not “jackpot justice”

Illinois Trial Lawyers Association President Peter J. Flowers recently authored an editorial that appeared in the Madison County Record and The Southern Illinoisan in response to an editorial by Travis Akins. Akins’ article claimed to have found the real root of Illinois’ economic problems – he pinpointed the blame precisely on consumer driven lawsuits. Akins attempted to argue that the State of Illinois’ 13% unemployment is so high because businesses avoid Illinois because of “jackpot justice.” According to Akins, the Illinois personal injury court system is so unruly that no new business wants to open up shop here. Of course, Akins has a ready audience in those special interest groups who wish to shut the courthouse doors to the average citizen.

Mr. Flowers first addressed the article by stating that using the term “jackpot justice” to describe awards given to victims of Illinois medical malpractice or corporate negligence shows these special interest groups’ contempt for the pain and suffering those victims endured. As the Chicago injury attorneys at Levin & Perconti are too familiar with, most parents of a child permanently disabled by someone’s negligent behavior may hardly feel like they have won anything at all after a successful verdict.

Mr. Flowers pointed out that the most common and largest flow in Akins and his supporters’ logic is how they blatantly ignore how the court system works. Trial lawyers like those at Levin & Perconti are only one element – courts also include a judge, a jury, and opposing counsel. No Illinois personal injury or Illinois medical malpractice award is given to any victim until all of the facts have been argued and a judge and jury weigh in. As Mr. Flowers summed up quite nicely, this is precisely the system our Framers envisioned, and the words of that vision are carved above the entrance to the U.S. Supreme Court show that: “Equal justice under the law.”