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Victims Group Says Big Tobacco Behind 'Tort Reform'

The Madison County Courthouse.

By Matt Sepic, KWMU

St. Louis – Opponents of lawsuit award caps in Illinois say the so-called malpractice reform crisis in the Metro East is the creation of tobacco and insurance companies.

Business groups want caps on pain and suffering awards. They say lawsuits are driving up the cost of doctors' malpractice insurance.

But Doug Wojcieszak, with Madison County-based Victims and Families United, says the campaign for award limits in the Metro East started after Philip Morris was sued there.

"Basically, big tobacco got held to account here in Madison County," Wojcieszak said. "It's awfully hard to say let's fix the courts to save Philip Morris, or save R. J. Reynolds or all these other companies.' But it's real easy to say let's fix the courts to protect our doctors, protect small business people, protect whomever.'"

Wojcieszak says forcing insurance companies to get state approval before raising rates will keep doctors from leaving the area.

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