ATRA identifies judicial hellholes.
Judicial hellholes are cities, counties, or judicial districts that attract lawsuits because they are perceived as very plaintiff-friendly jurisdictions, according to the American Tort Reform Association, which surved its members to determine which areas they would identify as venues prone to dispensing uneven justice. The association also conducted research to determine what makes each area a judicial hellhole, and to document the litigation abuses that occur in those jurisdictions.
The 11 areas most frequently named were Alameda, Los Angeles, and San Francisco Countries, Calif.; Madison Co., III.; Orleans Parish, La.; Mississippi's 22nd Judicial District; the City of St. Louis, Mo.; and Jefferson, Hidalgo, Nueces, and Starr Counties, Texas. In addition to these areas, the report includes anecdotal information on West Virginia, Hampton Co., S.C., and certain counties in Alabama, to which it awarded dishonorable mentions.
ATRA urges judges and legislators in such areas to adopt reforms to restore balance to the judicial systems. In addition to supporting venue reform, the association advocates fair and just application of the doctrine of forum non conveniens. A case should have some meaningful connection with a jurisdiction, otherwise it should be beard in the forum in which the facts arose, ATRA believes.
Although legislation can help to alleviate some of the problems identified in the report, one of the most effective ways to improve the litigation environment is through attention from the media. ATRA believes that by placing a spotlight on litigation abuses, the public and the media can persuade courts to apply the law fairly to all litigants.
The complete report may be downloaded at www.atra.org/reports/hellholes.