Post Date: December 28th, 2008
Every year, the American Tort Reform Association releases its report on “judicial hellholes”. I’m not extremely familiar with the organization. Obviously, it’s agenda is pro-insurance company, anti-justice for injured persons. Beyond that, I’d be interested in knowing the makeup of its membership. I’m sure its heavily funded by business and insurance company interests. In any event, I read about the 2008 edition of its Judicial Hellhole report on Eric Turkewitz’s New York Personal Injury Law Blog. Specifically, you can read his article at New York Personal Injury Law Blog: The Bubbe Maisse Report (aka “Judicial Hellholes”). I highly recommend you check out his blog and this article. It’s very entertaining and informative.
The reports definition of a “judicial hellhole” is quite interesting. Apparently, they “are places where judges systematically apply laws and court procedures
in an inequitable manner, generally against defendants in civil lawsuits.” In reality, I guess, this refers to counties where jurors are still not afraid to return verdicts for the injured. But what really caught my eye was the inclusion of St. Louis County. What?!?! Any St. Louis Personal Injury Lawyer experienced in trying cases in St. Louis County knows how tough it is out there. The jury pool is a very conservative, hard-working group that definitely buys into the tort-reform propaganda. In fact, from the last statistics I’ve seen, I believe more than 90% of medical malpractice cases result in defense verdicts. And straight-forward car accident cases are not much better. I recently tried a car wreck case in St. Louis County. During jury selection, I was nearly knocked over by the rush of wind caused by all the hands flying into the air when I asked which jurors had problems with the personal injury lawsuits. In the end, the verdict was only $25,000. Normally, this would seem especially low given my client’s medical bills were in excess of $50,000. But, it probably was a good result. Even the defense attorney refused to offer more than $10,000 because they know how tough St. Louis County jurors are.
The fact is, the inclusion of St. Louis County as a judicial hellhole cause ATRA’s list of “judicial hellholes” to lose all credibility. Rather, it illustrates to anyone familiar with the St. Louis County legal scene that this organization is nothing more than an insurance-backed group looking to eradicate all liability.
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