From The Center Square:
Op-Ed: Illinois lawmakers must stop creating policies that harm small businesses, threaten jobs
- By Karen Tirio
As a small business owner, I see firsthand the devastating impact high taxes, overly burdensome regulations, and lawsuit abuse have on our communities. Mom-and-pop shops are forced to close, basic goods become more costly, and thousands of families each year make the difficult decision to either endure emerging hardships or relocate to another state. In a time of high inflation and economic uncertainty, it is critical lawmakers work together to alleviate the harsh economic loads families in Illinois endure.
Excessive taxes and regulations hamper the future success of new businesses opening in our local communities. This is already abundantly clear to many. Compound this with excessively frivolous lawsuits and the burden small business families are forced to grapple with can become suffocating. Fixing the issue of lawsuit abuse plaguing our state is something that would benefit everyone. Abusive lawsuits wreak havoc on Illinois’ economy and disrupt the lives of countless individuals. The need to address this problem ought to take center stage in our town squares.
While our civil justice system is meant to right certain wrongs, our state’s legal policies leave the door wide open to indiscriminate legal actions that contradict the true meaning of justice. State laws give self-motived trial attorneys free rein to conceive and initiate their own legal action on undeserving businesses. On top of this, the largest percentages of a settlement in many cases are carved out to the lawyers themselves, with pennies left for the actual plaintiffs. As these certain firms shop around faux controversies to enrich themselves, the consequences not only affect undeserving business owners and plaintiffs, but the prices of goods on the shelves, competition, consumer access, job stability, and much more.
A recent economic impact report indicated that Illinois families pay nearly $2,100 more every year for goods and services due to lawsuit abuse. Furthermore, more than 170,000 Illinois jobs are lost every year because of this. When businesses are forced to pay hand-over-fist to defend themselves, even when the lawsuit against them lacks merit, prices go up and employees get laid off. Employees and local consumers should not have to stand for that.
Findings like these should send a shockwave across our state and motivate our leaders to act. Instead, many lawmakers in Springfield are continuing to encourage the destructive nature of frivolous lawsuits when we need to be doing the opposite. Our economy is already suffering enough from the high cost of owning a business. Commonsense legal reforms would give job-creators a much-needed reprieve from the constant threat of frivolous lawsuits.
By ending the carve outs for trial lawyer interest groups, family-owned businesses can thrive and positively impact our local communities. We can fight inflation, protect jobs, and bolster the competitiveness of the market. If we finally get these priorities in line, we can lighten the load of economic hardship before the final straw breaks the camel’s back.
Karen Tirio is the president of Monarch Senior Care in Woodstock, IL.