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Ranking: Madison, St. Clair Ill. counties among "most unfair" court jurisdictions in nation

(via Flickr/steakpinball)

Reporting from Illinois Public Radio's Amanda Vinicky used in this report.

An annual ranking again cites Illinois as a state rife with "judicial hell holes." But a group representing trial lawyers says the listing is bunk.

The American Tort Reform Association ranks Madison, St. Clair and McLean Counties among the most unfair court jurisdictions in the nation. And Cook County's on the watch list.

The Association's made up of businesses concerned that judges and juries in those counties are more likely to side with plaintiffs. Class action lawsuits often result in huge payouts.  Travis Akin is with the Illinois Lawsuit Abuse Watch and says being on the list is a harmful distinction.

"This is our reputation nationwide," Akin said. "When companies are looking to locate they're going to factor the legal climate as part of their decision. And so when they look at a state like Illinois and they see four judicial hellholes, it's going to make it much harder to sell our state as a great place to open up and do business."

Akin says Illinois needs to pass laws that restrict where lawsuits can be filed, and the state needs to set expert witness testimony parameters.

But the trade group for personal injury attorneys says the report's based on junk research.

In a statement, the president of the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association says the judicial system is designed to toss frivolous lawsuits, and that corporations are trying to undermine the courts so they can evade accountability.