Pennsylvania Maintains No. 1 Rank on Tort Reform Group’s ‘Judicial Hellholes’ Record

Pennsylvania Maintains No. 1 Rank on Tort Reform Group's 'Judicial Hellholes' List

Pennsylvania State Capitol in Harrisburg where the Supreme Court hears cases.

Pennsylvania topped the Judicial Hellholes list for the second year in a row, only this time the advocates of crime reform pointed to both the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

The American Tort Reform Association’s report “Judicial Hellholes 2020-2021” published on Tuesday assesses states, courts and legislators based on their litigation climate. The Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas, which topped the list last year, ranked # 1 this year for “excessive judgments” and “its open door policy to non-state plaintiffs”. Also at the forefront in 2020 was the Pennsylvania Supreme Court with two judgments in favor of plaintiffs.

In total, the report classified nine jurisdictions in the list of “Judicial Hellholes”.

“Some are known for allowing innovative litigation or for embracing litigation tourism, and in all of them government appears to seek to increase civil liability at every opportunity,” the report said. “While most states have seen less litigation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, activities are expected to resume in 2021, with Judicial Hellholes leading the charges.”

The American Association for Justice, the largest bar association in the country, upheld the crime reform group’s finding that fewer filings were filed in 2020.

“While ATRA has to admit that most states have seen fewer legal disputes, that certainly hasn’t stopped them from demanding immunity from corporations for harming or killing workers and consumers,” AAJ spokeswoman Carly Moore Sfregola wrote in an E -Mail statement. “Not even a global pandemic can stop ATRA from recycling this exposed propaganda report annually.”

Last year, the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas took first place after a jury awarded $ 8 billion against Johnson & Johnson in a Risperdal ruling, which was reduced to $ 6.8 million this year. That year, the report cited a $ 70 million ruling on a basin net, which was upheld on appeal earlier this year. It also referred to two Pennsylvania Supreme Court rulings. One of these was the Walsh v BASF ruling, which “cemented the state’s low standard for expert witness testimony,” the report said. Another reason was the October 21 ruling in a $ 12.5 million pelvic plexus ruling that violated the jurisdiction of the US Supreme Court in its Bristol-Myers Squibb ruling in maintaining Pennsylvania jurisdiction “Openly contradicted” the Superior Court of California in 2017.

Judicial Hell Holes 2020-2021

The report continued to rank New York City number 2 and California number 3 at the top of the list. In addition to its asbestos file, which included a $ 325 million ruling on talcum powder, which was cut to $ 120 million last month, New York City surpassed California as the main venue for lawsuits over food and beverage for in 2020 Consumers such as B. Vanilla flavor in numerous products. California, ranked number 2 on the basis of Roundup judgments last year, continued to hold a high profile in relation to its Proposition 65 litigation, Private Attorneys General Act, and consumer protection laws, which voters passed on November 3rd Proposition 24 tightened.

The report also reassigned Georgia to List No. 6, citing its “nuclear judgments”, particularly against the trucking industry. That year, a jury awarded $ 21 million to the family of a man who was killed while walking by a trucker who felt asleep at the wheel.

Numerous mentions were made in the report about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is said that 21 states and the District of Columbia passed laws to limit liability for healthcare companies, businesses, schools, and others during the pandemic. However, some other legislative efforts to reform the law failed because of the pandemic, such as Georgia and Florida, which remained on the “watch list”.

The report also cited the rise in pandemic-related lawsuits, which include consumer class action lawsuits over canceled vacation and tuition fees, cruise ship passenger cases, and labor disputes against employers like Amazon and McDonald’s.

“Of particular concern is a growing number of lawsuits designed to pay businesses and others for a person’s exposure to COVID-19,” the report said. “These types of lawsuits pose a threat to restarting the economy. A single unjustified lawsuit could cause a small business that is already on the brink to collapse. “

Other important points in the report were:

  • Asbestos disputes stemming from multiple states ranking up, including South Carolina, ranked fourth, where the report cited “a pattern of discovery abuse, unjustified sanctions, poor evidence and multi-million dollar judgments.”
  • The # 7 venue was St. Louis, Missouri, due to the Misssouri Supreme Court decision earlier that year not to review a $ 4.7 billion talc powder ruling against Johnson & Johnson. An appeals court in Missouri had reduced the award to US $ 2.1 billion, but upheld the verdict.
  • Madison and St. Clair counties, Illinois, which had been on the list for years in previous years due to asbestos litigation, ranked 8th due to an increase in class actions brought under the state’s Biometric Information Protection Act.
  • New Jersey’s legislation was on the “watchlist” for “numerous expander bills,” including those that would expand liability through exposure to COVID-19. The report also cited an August 5 ruling by the New Jersey Appellate Division reversing the dismissal of a pair of talcum powder lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson based on plaintiffs’ expert evidence.