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Reforms Drive Down Mass Tort Filings in Philadelphia

Even though some personal injury lawyers still deny that Philadelphia was a judicial hellhole in the first place, much-needed reforms imposed earlier this year by the chief administrative judge seem to have dramatically halted the explosive growth in recent years of new mass tort filings there

As reported Sep. 30 by the Legal Intelligencer, Pennsylvania’s leading source for legal news and analysis, the “Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas is projecting that 60 percent fewer mass tort cases will be filed this year than were filed in 2011.”

With only 628 such cases having been filed through the end of August, the court projects only 1,068 new filings for all of 2012, compared to 2,690 in 2011.

Still, a desperately defensive personal injury bar continues to obfuscate and deny that the “City of Unbrotherly Torts,” long notorious as plaintiff-friendly, was in need of reform.

With his Oct. 1 blog post, the Pennnsylvania personal injury lawyer lobbying group’s president-elect, Scott Cooper, incongruously attempts to adduce the Legal Intelligencer article as evidence that Philly isn’t now and never was a red-hot destination for litigation tourists from across the country.  But if Cooper’s obvious misinterpretation of the Intelligencer article’s first sentence and subsequent case-filings data is not willfully misleading, it must be troubling evidence of poor reading comprehension.

In any case, to correct the record, ATRA director of communications Darren McKinney has posted a comment pointing out Cooper’s misinterpretation of the facts.  And although nefarious trial lawyer forces have managed to delete McKinney’s comment several times now, he is stubbornly committed to reposting it as many times as necessary.  His comment reads as follows:

Leaving aside the question of copyright infringement raised by Mr. Cooper’s posting of the entire Legal Intelligencer article without so much as a link to that publication’s website, let’s turn immediately to his misleading — intentional or innocent — introduction to the article.

Mr. Cooper claims that mass tort filings in Philadelphia were down roughly 60% in 2011, and thus all demands for reform of that notoriously plaintiff-friendly Judicial Hellhole have been without merit. But that’s not what the article reports at all. In fact, it instead reports that new filings thus far in 2012 are down 60% relative to 2011. And in keeping with the upward trend prior to this year, 2011 filings had increased relative to 2010 filings, just as 2010 filings had increased over 2009 filings.

Reasonable people would attribute the 2012 decrease to Judge Herron’s February 15 reform order that was instigated, in part, by the heightened scrutiny of the jurisdiction that my organization and others brought to bear.

In any case, to deny that Philadelphia had long been an infamous destination for litigation tourists from across the country is to delude oneself or willfully misrepresent the facts.

Darren McKinney
American Tort Reform Association
Washington, D.C.



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