Wall Street Journal Touts Discredited "Judicial Hellholes" Tort Reform Report

Media Matters
Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Wall Street Journal editorial promoted the American Tort Reform Association's release of its 2012/2013 "Judicial Hellholes" report to attack state court systems, specifically California, for so-called "frivolous" lawsuits while failing to note the report's lack of credibility. The report, which annually lists states that have court systems ATRA considers to be the most "unfair and unbalanced" to defendants in the civil justice system, has been previously discredited for having no valid methodology and relying on unverified anecdotes drawn from press accounts.

The Center for Justice & Democracy at New York Law School describes the ATRA's members as being "largely Fortune 500 companies with a direct financial stake in restricting lawsuits." It is unsurprising, therefore, that the "Hellholes" reports regularly feature jurisdictions that corporate defendants feel are not favorable to their interests. In fact, the report describes its methodology as largely based on vaguely described "feedback" from ATRA members. The report uses these member complaints to rank states according to "places where judges in civil cases systematically apply laws and court procedures in an unfair and unbalanced manner, generally against defendants." This unscientific method is not, as the WSJ claimed, an explanation of the "costs" of any type of lawsuit, let alone "frivolous" ones.



For a copy of the complete article, contact CJ&D.

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