WASHINGTON, D.C. – The American Tort Reform Foundation issued its 2017-2018 Judicial Hellholes® report Tuesday, naming courts in Illinois, Florida, California, Missouri, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Louisiana among the nation’s “most unfair” in their handling of civil litigation.
“With both this annual report and a year-round website, our Judicial Hellholes program since 2002 has been documenting troubling developments in jurisdictions where civil court judges systematically apply laws and court procedures in an unfair and unbalanced manner, generally to the disadvantage of defendants,” began American Tort Reform Association president Tiger Joyce.
“Illinois’ Madison County and Cook County collectively comprise the #7 Judicial Hellhole this year,” Joyce continued. “They both attract disproportionate volumes of litigation and produce large verdicts. Plaintiff-friendly judges seem to dominate both jurisdictions. And since most local and state politicians seem comfortably in cahoots with the powerful plaintiffs’ bar, prospects for reforms remain remote, even as these jurisdictions’ hyper-litigiousness works against economic growth and job creation.
The most litigious localities ranked as follows:
- City of St. Louis Circuit Court
- New York City's Asbestos Litigation Court
- New Jersey
Joyce said jurisdictions on the report’s marginally less severe “Watch List” this year include state courts in Georgia, Maryland, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia, along with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
The report’s “Dishonorable Mentions” include singularly unsound decisions by Connecticut’s high court and a Wisconsin appellate court, as well as three tort reform vetoes by Minnesota’s Gov. Mark Dayton, “a plaintiffs’ bar puppet.”
“But also eager to emphasize good news, our report’s “Points of Light” section this year spotlights actions taken by attorneys general in Arizona, New Mexico and Nevada, cracking down on often fraudulent disability-access lawsuits that target small businesses. Several sound state and federal court decisions and verdicts are also applauded, as are 17 positive tort reforms enacted in 13 states in 2017.
“Finally, this year’s three ‘Closer Looks’ examine the U.S. Supreme Court’s jurisdictional decisions in 2017 and their likely impact on forum-shopping, as well as trial lawyers’ growing influence on fast-spreading opioid litigation and the long-respected but suddenly changing American Law Institute,” Joyce concluded.
Read the executive summary below and the full text of the report here: 2017-2018 Judicial Hellholes.