Share the article: Chicago trial lawyers step up to save Justice Kilbride’s campaign

Supreme Court Justice Thomas Kilbride isn’t just Mike Madigan’s favorite judge – he’s also the darling of out-of-district ambulance-chasing trial attorneys from Chicago and the Metro East. After the ILGOP announced an Anti-Kilbride coalition of over 500 elected officials and leaders – including all Illinois Republican Congressman and former US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood – trial attorneys have stepped up to save Kilbride’s campaign. 

In just the last week, trial attorney law firms have kicked in to fund television ads for Kilbride that began running on Monday:

  • Clifford Law Offices – Chicago – $100,000
  • Cooney & Conway – Chicago – $100,000
  • Power Rogers – Chicago – $100,000
  • Keefe, Keefe, & Unsel – Belleville – $100,000
  • Simmons Hanly Conroy – Alton – $100,000
  • Cavanagh Law Group – Chicago – $37,500
  • Antonio Romanucci – Chicago – $37,500
  • Tomasik Kotin & Kasserman – Chicago – $30,000
  • Cogan & Power – Chicago – $20,000

We already know why Madigan invests so heavily in Kilbride – the justice returned the favor with Madigan-protecting decisions to block term limits and strike down fair maps. Trial attorneys are no different. They expect a return on their investment, and Kilbride delivers. 

In Kilbride’s 2010 retention race, a report by the NYU Brennan Center found that large plaintiffs law firms laundered $1.4 million dollars in contributions through Mike Madigan’s Democratic Party of Illinois straight to the Kilbride campaign. With any Madigan connection so toxic ten years later, trial lawyers are skipping that step and now contributing directly to Kilbride.

In return for their past funding of his judicial career, Kilbride has handed down some truly wacky decisions in a bid to suit his benefactors – often standing alone amongst his peers.

Highlights of those bizarre decisions in which he was the lone dissenting justice include a case where Kilbride supported allowing a man to sue an ambulance driver that he himself had hit (HARRIS v. THOMPSON). Another case, Kilbride was the only justice to agree with the Illinois Trial Lawyer’s Association (ITLA) that a man injured in Mississippi, who has never worked in Illinois, could sue in Illinois (FENNELL V. ILLINOIS CENTRAL R.R. CO.). And another instance where Kilbride was the lone justice to side with the ITLA, was in supporting a man receiving workers compensation from his employer after he sustained an injury on his commute to his worksite (THE VENTURE—NEWBERG-PERINI, STONE & WEBSTER V. ILLINOIS WORKERS’ COMPENSATION COMM’N).

“There is no special interest or powerful benefactor that Justice Kilbride will not kowtow to so long as the checks keep rolling in to his campaign account. The people of Illinois deserve a Supreme Court free from such obvious and brazen conflicts of interest. Kilbride is compromised and he needs to go.” – ILGOP Chairman Tim Schneider


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