“Judicial Hellholes 2005,” a report issued by the American Tort Reform Association (“ATRA”), has just been released and is available at www.atra.org. ATRA defines “judicial hellholes” as “places that have a disproportionately harmful impact on civil litigation,” that attract personal injury lawyers “because they know that they will produce a positive outcome – an excessive verdict or settlement, a favorable precedent, or both.” This year’s report identified six hellholes, with Illinois leading the ticket with three counties named. The final list: Texas’ Rio Grande Valley and gulf coast, Cook County, Madison County and St. Clair County, Illinois, West Virginia and South Florida.
New this year is the “Watch List,” a list of areas cited in previous Judicial Hellhole reports or new areas being closely monitored due to recent negative developments in the litigation environment, including California, Eastern Kentucky, Eastern Alabama, Philadelphia, New Mexico, Delaware, Oklahoma, Orleans Parish, Louisiana and Washington, D.C.
Mississippi, the home jurisdiction of CAFA Law Blog Co-Editor Hunter Twiford, has now been removed from the Judicial Hellhole list, and in fact, received positive press for having “elected state Supreme Court justices who campaigned against out-of-control litigation.”
This year’s news wasn’t all bad, according to ATRA: the organization pointed to enactment of the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 as one of the year’s “Points of Light.”
Editor’s Note: McGlinchey Stafford, the publisher of the CAFA Law Blog, actively practices in several of the Judicial Hellholes, and has a physical presence in Orleans Parish, Louisiana, where the firm’s New Orleans
office is located, and in the Texas Hellholes, from the firm’s Houston and Dallas offices.