California tops business group's latest 'Judicial Hellholes' report

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

By Tina Bellon

(Reuters) - California courts topped a list of "Judicial Hellholes" supposedly unfair to business in an annual report released on Tuesday by the American Tort Reform Association.

The pro-business group singled out California for what it called the state's "predatory litigation" system. The report criticized in particular a December 2017 California Supreme Court decision allowing lawsuits against brand-name pharmaceutical makers over injuries caused by their generic competitors.

That decision disincentivizes companies to develop medication and could impose billions of dollars in liability on drugmakers, Tuesday's report said.

California, which has been named the country's worst "judicial hellhole" four times since the rankings began in 2002, was one of nine jurisdictions blasted on Tuesday by ATRA, a Washington D.C.-based group that lobbies for limits to corporate and professional liability.

Florida, New York City and the City of St. Louis were also named "hellholes."

The ATRA reports are widely criticized by consumer advocacy and plaintiffs' lawyer groups.

The American Association for Justice, a trial lawyers group, in a statement said the "real hellhole is a world in which an unsuspecting consumer is harmed, abused or defrauded by an unscrupulous corporation but has no recourse and no chance to prevent future wrongdoing."

The group in the past said the report was a corporate attempt to undermine the civil justice system to the detriment of American workers and consumers.

Joanne Doroshow, the executive director of the Center for Justice & Democracy at New York Law School, in a statement on Tuesday called the report "complete nonsense."

"It is little more than a public relations gimmick by an organization funded by detested industries who have been found liable for injuring or killing people and want to limit their legal responsibility," Doroshow said. …

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