‘Nuclear’ Verdicts Obliterate State Economies in Judicial Hellholes

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Americans pay a ‘tort tax’ of more than $1,300 each year

Eight “Judicial Hellholes®” were named today in the latest report from the American Tort Reform Foundation (ATRF), where they say lawsuit abuse and misuse of the court system are the norm.

ATRF named Georgia as the new top Judicial Hellhole®, making it the highest ranking the state has ever had.

The 2022-2023 Judicial Hellholes® are:

  1. Georgia
  2. The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania and the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas
  3. California
  4. New York
  5. Cook County, Illinois
  6. South Carolina Asbestos Litigation
  7. Louisiana
  8. St. Louis

As inflation impacts families nationwide, lawsuit abuse is driving up economic costs across the country.

Research shows that lawsuit abuse across the U.S. results in nearly $285 billion in excessive tort costs, meaning every American pays approximately $1,303 each year in a “tort tax.” Excessive tort costs affect 4,244,960 jobs across the country, with an estimated loss of $143.8 million in wages.

“Trial lawyers make big promises that lawsuits are the solution to various societal ills, but unfortunately there are many who take advantage of people and communities in need,” American Tort Reform Association President Tiger Joyce said. “Worse yet, are the courts and judges who allow questionable lawsuits to proceed, often allowing ‘junk science’ to serve as a basis. Unfortunately, when it’s all said and done, the people who needed help are no better off than they started while the lawyers walk away with millions.”

Georgia rose to the top for the first time as the new No. 1 Judicial Hellhole® after a year of numerous nuclear verdicts handed down in the Peach State, including a record-breaking $1.7 billion verdict against Ford Motor Co.

“The case against Ford Motor Co. that resulted in this record-breaking verdict was unfortunately riddled with ethically questionable events and severely biased court orders,” Joyce said.

ATRF says this year, they saw a surge in these excessive and high-dollarnuclear verdicts across Judicial Hellholes®. Nuclear verdicts are awards that are greater than $10 million. The Foundation says many times these awards are in large part driven by damages to compensate for a person’s subjective and immeasurable pain and suffering that cannot be justified as compensating a person for an injury.

“These nuclear verdicts result in higher costs on consumer goods and fewer jobs, all while American families are already feeling the pinch of inflation,” Joyce said. “Trial lawyers tend to target these ‘Judicial Hellholes’ because of their plaintiff-friendly courts with growing reputations for handing down nuclear verdicts.”

The report also highlights thousands of “no-injury” lawsuit filings, many of which ATRF says are filed by serial plaintiffs who file numerous, practically duplicate lawsuits.

“One of the biggest problems with these ‘no-injury’ lawsuits is that they ignore one of the most basic tenets of tort law – claiming an actual injury,” Joyce said. “They also tend to target small businesses, some of which are minority- and immigrant-owned businesses already struggling to recover from COVID-19 shutdowns.”

Another concern cited by ATRF is third-party litigation financing, which they say leads to predatory lawsuit lending.

“Judicial Hellholes® open the door to third-party litigation financing, which has become a driving force behind nuclear verdicts and the overall climates of lawsuit abuse,” Joyce said. “This practice lacks transparency, increases litigation and provides benefits to trial lawyers looking to expand liability at the expense of consumers.”

ATRF also includes a “Watch List” to keep an eye on in the coming year due to abusive litigation or recent troubling developments:

Judicial Hellholes® are deemed the most unjust local courts and state civil justice systems in the country. Read the full report at JudicialHellholes.org.

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