Judicial Hellholes (2014-2015)

Judicial Hellholes (2014-2015) Thumb


Each year, the American Tort Reform Foundation (ATRF) publishes a report of “Judicial Hellholes” that highlights jurisdictions that are unfavorable to companies or defendants involved in civil litigation.  The group named the top seven “hellholes” for 2014/2015 that included New York City Asbestos Litigation (NYCAL), California, West Virginia, Florida, Illinois (Madison County), Missouri, and Louisiana.  

Beyond the top seven, the ATRF further calls attention to New Jersey (Atlantic County), Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, Virginia (Newport News), and Pennsylvania (Philadelphia) as jurisdictions that bear watching due to their histories of abusive litigation and/or troubling developments.  The counsel and courts in these jurisdictions will be watched by the ATRF over the coming months to determine whether they will be included on future hellholes lists. 

This year’s report also recognizes the good news from some of the Judicial Hellholes and other jurisdictions across the country.  Below examples of, among other things, fair and balanced judicial decisions that adhere to the rule of law and positive legislative reforms:

  • U.S. Bankruptcy Court for North Carolina Judge George Hodges exposed rampant manipulation in asbestos litigation in which plaintiffs’ lawyers hide trust claims showing their clients were exposed to asbestos by bankrupt companies while litigating claims against solvent defendants.
  • The Alaska Supreme Court ruled that plaintiffs’ lawyers cannot use the state’s consumer protection law to circumvent requirements for personal injury actions.
  • The Iowa Supreme Court, in contrast to the Alabama Supreme Court, rejected “innovator liability,” which allows plaintiffs to sue companies that developed a brand-name drug when they took the generic version.
  • The Minnesota Supreme Court maintained rational constraints on the state’s consumer fraud and joint and several liability statutes.
  • The New York Court of Appeals did not recognize a cause of action for medical monitoring when a plaintiff has no present physical injury, following the majority approach.
  • The Washington Supreme Court resisted an attempt by plaintiffs’ lawyers to circumvent the state’s worker’s compensation law that would have allowed them to expand the pool of asbestos defendants.
  • Mississippi voters retired a Jones County judge known for imbalanced rulings.

In addition to these significant court rulings, legislatures in a dozen states enacted significant, positive civil justice reforms.  Louisiana had a particularly productive session, enacting five laws aimed at improving the state’s polluted litigation environment.

For the entire report, see “2014/2015 Executive Summary - Judicial Hellholes: Top 7 According to the ATRF” or www.judicialhellholes.org.

Jan 26, 2015