JUDICIAL HELLHOLES SUMMARIES
#1 GEORGIA The “Peach State” maintained its position atop the list thanks to another year of high nuclear verdicts and liability-expanding decisions by the Georgia Supreme Court. Neither the judiciary nor the legislative branches are willing to take responsibility for the state’s poor civil justice system.
#1 THE SUPREME COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA & THE PHILADELPHIA COURT OF COMMON PLEAS A late-breaking venue decision by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court that will increase litigation tourism and an almost $1 billion verdict out of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas propelled these courts to the top of this year’s list. Additionally, there is a flood of medical liability litigation in Philadelphia courts thanks to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision to eliminate an important rule governing where lawyers may file these cases. The Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas continues to be a prolific producer of nuclear verdicts and liability-expanding decisions by the high court will only worsen the situation. Plaintiffs from across the country flock to the Court of Common Pleas because of its reputation for excessive verdicts and its “open door” policy to out-of-state plaintiffs.
#2 COOK COUNTY, ILLINOIS Lawsuits brought under the state’s Biometric Information Privacy Act bog down Illinois businesses and a new wave of no injury lawsuits is on the horizon. Food and beverage litigation floods the county’s dockets and liability-expanding legislation only worsens the problem. Additionally, an overwhelming percent of the state’s nuclear verdicts come out of the Cook County trial court.
#3 CALIFORNIA Endless Prop-65 litigation targets a variety of industries and no-injury Private Attorney General Act (PAGA) and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessibility lawsuits bog down business. The state’s unique Lemon Law is a gold mine for plaintiffs’ lawyers and arbitration is under attack in both the courts and the legislature. California also is at the forefront of the environmental litigation battle.
#4 NEW YORK CITY Expansive liability laws have led to lawsuit abuse in the Big Apple. No-injury consumer class action lawsuits and lawsuits brought under the ADA bog down businesses and third-party litigation finance feeds the litigation machine. Additionally, rather than address the problems, the legislature chooses to pursue the trial bar’s liability-expanding agenda.
#5 SOUTH CAROLINA ASBESTOS LITIGATION South Carolina’s consolidated docket for the state’s asbestos litigation has cemented an unwelcome reputation for bias against corporate defendants, unwarranted sanctions, low evidentiary requirements, liability expanding rulings, unfair trials, severe verdicts, a willingness to overturn or modify jury verdicts to benefit plaintiffs, and frequent appointment of a receiver to maximize recoveries from insurers.
#6 LANSING, MICHIGAN A newcomer to the 2023 list, both the Michigan Supreme Court and Michigan Legislature bear responsibility for Lansing’s deteriorating civil justice climate. The high court expanded premises and workplace liability and adopted an expansive approach to medical liability. A barrage of liability-expanding legislation was introduced and enacted, with more on the horizon in 2024.
#7 LOUISIANA Coastal litigation drags on with no end in sight and is a burden on the state’s economy. Insurance schemes plague the system, and the outgoing governor vetoed much needed transparency legislation.
#8 ST. LOUIS Judges in St. Louis abandon their role as “gatekeepers” and allow junk science to be presented in their courtrooms. The courts are a prolific producer of nuclear verdicts and St. Louis has an international reputation as a plaintiff-friendly jurisdiction. Rather than address the lawsuit abuse, the legislature has failed to move reforms.