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Philadelphia tops annual 'judicial hellholes' list

Philadelphia tops annual 'judicial hellholes' list

Philadelphia once again tops the American Tort Reform Assn.'s list of “judicial hellholes,” which was released Thursday.

Washington-based ATRA's annual report traditionally highlights jurisdictions where the civil justice reform group holds that “judges systematically apply laws and court procedures in an unfair and unbalanced manner, generally against defendants in civil lawsuits.”

But this year's report also notes that lawmaking and regulatory activity can adversely affect the fairness of state's litigation environment.

Philadelphia, which also was No. 1 on last year's list, “hosts a disproportionate share of Pennsylvania's lawsuits” and, according to the report, forum shopping for plaintiff-friendly courts within the state is primarily a “Philly phenomenon.”

“Of greatest concern is the Complex Litigation Center in Philadelphia, where judges have actively sought to attract personal injury lawyers from across the state and the country,” according to the ATRA analysis.

Other jurisidictions that made the 2011/2012 Judicial Hellholes list were, in ranked order, California; West Virginia; South Florida; Madison, St. Clair and McLean counties, Ill.; New York and Albany, N.Y.; and Clark County, Nev.

But the report also notes what it calls “points of light,” citing state legislatures that approved nearly 50 civil justice reforms this year. The report also cited specific courts, such as the California and Illinois supreme courts, for rulings regarding civil justice.

The Washington-based American Assn. for Justice, which represents the trial bar, dismissed the report as “propaganda.”

“Despite receiving millions in corporate cash, ATRA continues to produce the same stale, recycled report year after year,” AAJ President Gary M. Paul said in a statement. “ATRA's multinational corporate funders should start to question if their dues are spent wisely on such an amateur piece of propaganda.”