Washington, DC, December 13, 2006 – LAWFUEL – Law News Network – Na…

Washington, DC, December 13, 2006 – LAWFUEL – Law News Network – Naming the entire state of West Virginia, South Florida, Southeast Texas and three notoriously plaintiff-friendly counties in Illinois, the American Tort Reform Foundation (ATRF) today released its annual Judicial Hellholes® report, shining a bright spotlight on “America’s worst jurisdictions in which to face a lawsuit.”

American Tort Reform Association president Sherman Joyce explained to a gathering of reporters in Washington that “Judicial Hellholes are places where judges systematically apply laws and court procedures in an unfair and unbalanced manner, generally against defendants, in civil lawsuits.

“What many will find interesting about this year’s report is that the top six Hellholes are in states that recently enacted significant tort reforms, yet a handful of judges are either ignoring those reforms or otherwise abusing their discretion to distort cases in favor of plaintiffs.”

Joyce acknowledged that the Judicial Hellholes 2006 report “cites some repeat offenders, but we also single out some first-timers on our ‘Watch List’ and among the ‘Dishonorable Mentions.’ And the report’s ‘Points of Light’ include several jurisdictions that have considerably improved civil justice, particularly when it comes to containing scandalous asbestos litigation.”

ATRA general Counsel Victor Schwartz noted that the fifth annual Hellholes report highlights several important trends. “Overall, the type of extraordinary and blatant unfairness that sparked the Judicial Hellholes project and characterized the report over the past few years has decreased across-the-board,” Schwartz said. “This improvement is a shared result of shining the spotlight on litigation abuse and the wise corrections by both the judicial and legislative branches of state governments.

“Thanks to actions by some local judges and rulings by the Illinois Supreme Court,” continued Schwartz, “perhaps the most encouraging improvement can be found in perennial Hellhole Madison County, Illinois.”

“But make no mistake, the danger of regression persists and is very real,” Schwartz cautioned. “New leadership at the organization formerly known as the Association of Trial Lawyers of America has pledged to undertake a massive political and public relations campaign. We’re already seeing a post-election effort to rollback reasonable reforms and undermine the fairness and predictability of our civil justice system. Expect personal injury lawyers to fight for expansions of liability with so-called ‘consumer protection’ lawsuits and public nuisance actions, among other troubling tactics.”

Joyce and Schwartz went on to discuss in detail the report’s rationale for citing the various jurisdictions as it does. All those details are available in the full Judicial Hellholes 2006 report posted at http://www.atra.org/reports/hellholes/.

Hellholes

West Virginia
South Florida
Rio Grande Valley and Gulf Coast of Texas
Cook County, Illinois
Madison County, Illinois
St. Clair County, Illinois
Watch List

Miller County, Arkansas
Los Angeles County, California
San Francisco, California
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Orleans Parish, Louisiana
Delaware
Dishonorable Mentions

Providence, Rhode Island
Massachusetts Supreme Court
Louisiana Supreme Court
New Jersey
Nebraska Supreme Court
California Legislature
Points of Light

Illinois Supreme Court
California Appellate Court
Florida Legislature
Various State Legislatures and Courts
Oregon Trial Court
“By issuing this report each year, ATRF hopes to educate the public and the media who, in turn, will persuade Hellholes courts to provide equal justice under the law,” Joyce concluded.

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