Judicial Hell-aciousness: ATRA’s Annual Report

By December 18, 2007Briefly Legal

The American Tort Reform Association’s annual “Judicial Hellhole” report comes out this morning, highlighting the venues where reckless juries operating under capricious judges hand out unjust awards in tort claims.

Here’s the AP’s first account:

The American Tort Reform Association, a pro-business group, said today that South Florida topped its national list of “judicial hellholes” for, among other things, “its reputation for high awards and plaintiff-friendly rulings that make it a launching point for class actions, dubious claims and novel theories of recovery.”

A spokeswoman for Miami-Dade County Circuit Court, Eunice Sigler, said the judges had not read the report and had no immediate comment.

On the newest list, South Florida is followed by Texas’ Rio Grande Valley and Gulf Coast, Illinois’ Cook County including Chicago, West Virginia and Nevada’s Clark County that includes Las Vegas.

And the longstanding Illinois offenders? Madison and St. Clair County are off the list:

For several years, the courts in Madison and St. Clair counties had been labeled by business interests as “judicial hellholes,” venues where corporate defendants couldn’t get a fair shake. That label apparently no longer applies.

The American Tort Reform Foundation, the national business lobby that came up with the label, plans today to release its annual report ranking plaintiff-friendly venues. And for the first time in three years, neither county is on it.

“Certainly Madison County and St. Clair County have not become pro-defendant jurisdictions, but they’re fair once more,” said Victor Schwartz, general counsel for the tort reform association. “It’s a good day for those counties.”

Congrats and BOO, in whatever order is appropriate. Those jurisdictions that qualify as hellholes reward the unworthy, punish the innocent, damage the rule of law and respect for our justice system, and make life more expensive. Other than that….

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