What does a visitor to the Madison County fair in Highland, Illinois, normally see? Tractor pulls, 4H projects, prize cows and chickens--that sort of thing. This year, however, an article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch alerted readers that the fair would also include . . . yuck, tort reformers.
The article said that both the Illinois Chamber of Commerce and Illinois Lawsuit Abuse Watch (I-Law) were going to set up booths. It seemed troublesome to me, since one of the organizations' purposes is to make potential jurors skeptical about anyone who sues for an injury. So Andrea and I headed over to the fair yesterday, hoping to do some investigative work. My plan was to collect the literature the groups were distributing for my "jury selection" file. (In selecting a jury for trial, lawyers are allowed to ask questions about tort reform and the potential jurors' exposure to groups like the two at the fair.)
Our undercover work was largely uneventful, mostly because I wasn't in the mood for any Michael-Moore-style questioning. The guy staffing the Chamber of Commerce booth gave us a brochure about "Sharks in Illinois," some no-shark stickers, and a cute little rubber shark that was supposed to remind us of the dangers of "predatory trial lawyers." The neighboring I-Law booth featured large posters with information I knew to be false, but I couldn't complain because there was no one staffing the booth. I took an I-Law brochure about choosing a lawyer, which contained more false information about personal injury cases. Any unsuspecting citizens unlucky enough to use the I-Law brochure as a guide will be seriously misinformed about their rights. But maybe that's I-Law's intent. Another brochure recommended that citizens "help fight lawsuit abuse" by making sure to "serve on a jury." Do you think that anyone brainwashed by I-Law would be open-minded enough for jury service?
After getting our fill of tort reform, Andrea and I looked at some cows and ate some funnel cake. Then we returned home, where I later found myself growing quite fond of the little rubber shark. I decided to use it as a paperweight. I tested my plan on our new baby, Sam, who didn't like it--here's a photo of him, getting attacked.