As we reported last year at this time, the annual Judicial Hellholes® report is eagerly anticipated reading for us in the Illinois Casualty Company Legal Department each year. First published by The American Tort Reform Association in 2020, the Judicial Hellholes® report is a list of jurisdictions where judges in civil cases are considered to have applied laws and court procedures in such an unfair and unbalanced way so as to disadvantage defendants. Over the years, the Judicial Hellholes® report has grown to also include legislative and regulatory activity that makes for an unlevel playing field.
As you will see, the 2021-2022 report (which can be accessed in full here) again includes several hellholes in ICC territory. In Illinois, Cook County joins Madison and St. Clair Counties on the Judicial Hellholes® list in part due to Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act litigation developments, a topic we recently discussed in the ICC Blog.
Pennsylvania is another frequent flier on the hellhole list, specifically the Philadelphia Courts of Common Pleas (known for excessive jury verdicts) and its State Supreme Court (which has issued liability-expanding decisions and may be signaling trouble ahead for defendants seeking to avoid joint and several liability with other defendants).
The City of St. Louis remains on the Hellholes list, but dropped to #7 as tort reform in the state of Missouri was applauded. Missouri is even identified as a "point of light."
Minnesota has dropped from the Judicial Hellholes® list to the Watch List. Unfortunately, the report noted that Minnesota's improved rating did not arise out of any legislative or judicial reforms, but was caused by COVID-19-driven shutdowns and inactivity. The report cited Minnesota’s plaintiff-friendly medical malpractice laws, admissibility of “junk science,” and third-party litigation financing. Like Minnesota, Colorado is also on the Watch List for allowing dubious expert testimony and received additional bad press for the state legislature’s “propensity to enact liability-expanding legislation that targets the state’s employers.”
For insureds doing business in a Judicial Hellhole®, it is more critical than ever to have quality insurance coverage and an insurance company like ICC that not only aggressively protects their interests but understands the legal landscape.
Learn more about insuring your business with ICC by contacting an ICC agent today. The Find an Agent search on our homepage will help you locate an ICC agent in your area.