Behrens Calls for End to Illinois Litigation Tourism in Asbestos Cases

Shook, Hardy & Bacon Partner Mark Behrens explains in an opinion piece for the Madison-St. Clair Record how litigation tourism—the filing of lawsuits outside of either party's home jurisdiction—is detrimental to Illinois, despite the state's seeming encouragement. "Illinois law makes it easy for plaintiffs to forum shop and sue in counties with a reputation for jackpot justice," Behrens writes.

"The Madison County courthouse is home to perhaps one-third or more of all asbestos lawsuits filed in the entire U.S., although only 10 percent of the plaintiffs live in Illinois and far fewer actually live in Madison County," Behrens states. "As a consequence, citizens in these counties bear a disproportionate burden." Behrens points to the increased need for jurors and the potential for delayed trials in cases brought by local residents as particularly harmful effects on citizens in these tourism-heavy jurisdictions.

Behrens also argues that companies may avoid bringing business to these "judicial hellholes," as the American Tort Reform Association termed them, because the legal environments are unwelcoming. "For a state with economic growth and employment rates that consistently rank below the national average," Behrens argues, "Illinois job seekers deserve sensible litigation reforms that will attract new employment opportunities."