Thursday, April 16, 2009

A Glimmer of Justice?

Could it be that Illinois may actual be stumbling toward basic rule of law in it's widely decried tort system?

I am going to go read the Nolan opinion and see...

UPDATE: OK, for background's sake - Illinois Law under the old Lipke standard forbid a defendant in an asbestos injury case from making any mention of any other exposure outside of those defendants standing at trial. You can see what happens if someone sued/accused 120 companies and ended up taking settlement money from or dismissing all but one company. They stand alone and nobody on a jury gets to hear anything about the 35 years the plaintiff worked with 56 other asbestos containing products - just the three times he may have used brake shoes from defendant company X (aka The Merchant of Death!!!!). This rather bad and unique restriction has now been dumped by the Illinois Supreme Court.

What will the effect of this opinion be? As my old mentor used to say in the face of any decision or fact being brought to light ... "so what?" It is not enough to simply point to the decision without knowing what its real effect on the tort system in Illinois [ie. how the heck do you reconcile the Nolan decision with this]. I think it will reduce the number of peripheral defendants that get dragged in and have some money extorted from them by fear of being left alone to face the music at trial. Conversely, the main targets of a lawsuit will now have to bleed more to satisfy the contingency fee plaintiff bar's appetite. It will be difficult for the plaintiff's bar to spin this as some evil ring kissing Court bowing to corporate power - the Opinion was drafted by one of the more liberal members of the Court, and joined by others. The only dissenter agrees with the main point of the decision, just not the order for a new trial.

So, after reading the opinion, I think it is a step in the right direction - but not overly much more than that.


Blogger Kath said...

Not sure I will ever understand anything again that goes on in Illinois without being suspicious of what is the "real" story/reason.

No, that's not fair, but based on the past year, I have become rather biased.

So any decision that may look like it makes sense -- yeah, well, how long 'til they dump that for something more in keeping with current "politics".

5:06 AM  
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