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February 6th, 2012

New Data Add to ‘Hellholes’ Case Against Philadelphia’s ‘Complex Litigation Center’

Roughly 7 in 10 lawsuits filed in Philadelphia’s plaintiff-friendly Complex Litigation Center (CLC) have no connection to the city or to Pennsylvania, more broadly, according to data comprising a newly issued appendix to an empirical study originally released last October by the International Center for Law & Economics

“These latest numbers further make the case against the CLC as a hot-spot for litigation tourists from across the country  ̶  at considerable expense to local taxpayers and jobseekers,” said American Tort Reform Association president Tiger Joyce, noting that Philadelphia civil courts have been cited for the past two years as the very worst among his organization’s annually ranked Judicial Hellholes®.

The original study, Are Plaintiffs Drawn to Philadelphia’s Civil Courts? An Empirical Examination, and the new appendix, says Joyce, ”should quiet the defenders of Philadelphia’s unfair and costly status quo, those who have incorrectly insisted that ATRA’s criticism of the CLC is merely ‘anecdotal.’”  

The original study demonstrated that Philadelphia’s CLC, first criticized by ATRA in its 2010/2011 Judicial Hellholes report, tended to favor plaintiffs.  Data in the new appendix make clear that this plaintiff-friendly reputation is indeed attracting case-filings from outside of Philadelphia and from outside of Pennsylvania.  In 67.2 percent of CLC personal injury cases, the plaintiffs neither reside in Pennsylvania nor claim to have been injured there.  With specific respect to asbestos cases, for which Philadelphia has become increasingly notorious, that figure jumps to 84 percent.  

“Personal injury lawyers from all across the country are flocking to Philadelphia to file their clients’ lawsuits,” Joyce continued.  “Common sense tells us that they would not be going to such expense if the chances of winning their cases in Philadelphia were not significantly better than in their home jurisdictions.  Meanwhile, Pennsylvania’s taxpayers are obliged to provide court resources exploited by out-of-state plaintiffs, and those out of work there continue to suffer as some businesses avoid expansions in or relocations to the Keystone State out of fear of excessive litigation.

“Fortunately, it seems Pennsylvania policymakers are beginning to understand the problem,” Joyce noted.  “The legislature in Harrisburg is again expected to take up much-needed venue reform legislation this session, and CLC judges themselves are now actively considering the elimination of consolidation and reverse bifurcation rules to boost fairness and help Philadelphia move beyond its reputation as an anti-business judicial hellhole.  We encourage both lawmakers and judges to take significant actions this year,” Joyce concluded.

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