Gregory L. Shevlin, the current President of the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association wrote a compelling response to the American Reform Association’s Junk Research Report. In it, he addresses how American citizens have been continually denied access to the court system due to the deep pockets of certain individuals who want to avoid legal troubles.
Every year, the American Tort Reform Association (ATRA) updates a report with new information (titled the “Judicial Hellholes” report). Mr. Shevlin believes that the report utilizes poorly backed research to ignite public fear and create confusion over how the legal system works.
Standing beside the ATRA is the Illinois Lawsuit Abuse Watch. This organization also leads the march against what they deem to be “frivolous” lawsuits. However, the groups behind these organizations should raise some serious alarms. They are funded by some of the largest corporate giants in the country and across the global. Why? They want to do anything possible to minimize their financial exposure to lawsuits. By encouraging organizations like the ATRA and Illinois Lawsuit Abuse Watch, they discourage citizens from using their legal right to hold these companies accountable.
So whose name would come up as a supporter of these organizations? Major players like State Farm, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Exxon, and Aetna, among others.
Mr. Shevlin commented, “It’s often only through our courts that citizens can get a fair shake, particularly when taking on such powerful special interests. No entity, government official or business should be permitted to use its power, however massive, to infringe upon the right of citizens to have their day in court.”
Sadly, many of these corporations don’t fear frivolous lawsuits. In fact, they are well aware that our justice system does its job in screening out the very limited lawsuits that are brought forward without any merit. What these corporate giants do fear are valid lawsuits that could cause them serious financial liability and bring attention to others who have been injured by their products or services.
Our legal system must continue to punish this type of corporate misconduct in favor of supporting individual citizens. These are the people that need protection. According, Mr. Shevlin notes that the “real ‘judicial hellhole’ is the one that ATRA and its allies wish to create: a court system in which regular citizens have no prospects for fair treatment and justice because their hard-won rights have been stripped away by powerful special interests.”
The good news is that the 2012 election was a great indicator that Americans are no longer going to accept being lied to by the corporate giants, businesses, and individuals that have for far too long been putting their financial profits over the lives of people. Mr. Shevlin encourages citizens to reject the conflicting reports of ATRA and other organizations and push for officials who will preserve their constitutional rights.