The American Tort Reform Association (ATRA) is a key player in the effort to weaken the civil justice system. As part of its campaign, it issues an annual report titled, “Judicial Hellholes.” However, this report has been shown to be just one more effort by a corporate-funded front group seeking to avoid liability and personal injury lawsuits.
Furthermore, it has been shown to contain numerous factual errors and to lack any consistent methodology. The American Association for Justice has shown that the report is essentially propaganda for its campaign to limit the access of ordinary people to the courts.
Other critics of the “Judicial Hellholes” report include The New York Times, which in 2007 described the report as having no apparent methodology and containing groundless arguments. The West Virginia Law Review noted that the goal of the report was to motivate state legislatures to make law that will favor corporate defendants and their insurers.
The AAJ has reported numerous flaws in past Judicial Hellholes reports. For example, the 2010 report described a Humboldt County, California jury verdict as “jaw dropping” without going on to explain that the $677 million verdict was reduced to $67 million in a settlement only two months later.
Other problems with the Judicial Hellholes reports include factual errors such as the state where a personal injury lawsuit was filed, how many verdicts favored plaintiffs, or how many lawsuits were filed. Other weaknesses include conclusions that don’t make sense, such as the assertion that the state of West Virginia was the worst so-called judicial hellhole even after it adopted caps on medical malpractice damages, eliminated third party bad faith and significant changes to the state’s workers’ compensation laws.
Source: Take Justice Back, “Don’t Be Duped by ATRA’s “Hellholes” Report,”by Michelle Kimmel , Dec, 11, 2012.