Spotlight on Judicial Hellholes

Start spreading the news. New York City has emerged as a so-called “judicial hellhole,† or one of the nation’s most unfair civil court jurisdictions, according to the eighth annual Judicial Hellholes report just released by the American Tort Reform Association (ATRA). ATRA reports that the Great Gotham spent more settling slips and falls, medical malpractice, car accident and school-related claims than the next five largest American cities combined. After several years on the watch list, New Mexico’s appellate courts also made the cut as a first-time judicial hellhole. This year the New Mexico Court of Appeals even rejected the “baseball rule,† which has long recognized spectators’ inherent risk of being hit by a batted ball, ATRA notes. The two join perennial judicial hellholes South Florida, West Virginia, Cook County, Illinois and New Jersey. Not coincidentally, the local or state economies in many of these hellhole jurisdictions have suffered more than most during the latest recession, according to ATRA. The report includes a couple of special sections such as “Rogues’ Gallery† which is designed to remind policymakers – especially those in Congress – that there are influential plaintiffs’ lawyers who have stretched ethics rules and criminal laws beyond acceptable bounds. Another special section, “Fueling the Fire,† focuses on several troubling trends in some courts that could lead to costly expansions of civil liability and even an erosion of public health and safety. Check out further I.I.I. information on the liability system.

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