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January 20th, 2012

Philadelphia, Worst of the ‘Judicial Hellholes,’ May Be Working to Improve Its Lousy Reputation

Deny as they might that Philadelphia’s civil courts have earned their #1-ranking among Judicial Hellholes for the last two years, it appears judges there have nonetheless undertaken some potentially meaningful reforms.

As reported on the website of Nathan A. Schachtman, the Trial Division of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas’ administrative judge last month announced “that the Philadelphia courts will suspend their use of consolidation and reverse bifurcation in mass tort actions.  The Court had previously announced that it was studying whether consolidation and reverse bifurcation procedures have adequate procedural safeguards in place ‘to assure fair and just disposition of actions filed.’”  

Judicial Hellholes critiques of Philadelphia courts have cited both consolidation and reverse bifurcation, among other things, as unfair to defendants and out of the mainstream.   

Schachtman further report’s that “after a period of studying these procedures, the Court may reinstate reverse bifurcation and consolidation if the Court believes that the procedures are implemented fairly.  Reverse bifurcation in pharmaceutical cases [ended] permanently as of January 1, 2012.”

Here’s hoping Philadelphia judges will decide to discontinue permanently the use of consolidation and reverse bifurcation in all civil litigation.  Doing so would help reduce the rampant forum shopping that has inundated the “City of Unbrotherly Torts” with lawsuits filed by plaintiffs — from across Pennsylvania and around the country — with no plausible connection to the jurisdiction.

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