California Takes Top Spot on ATRA’s “Hellholes” List; Pennsylvania Falls to No. 4

California has reclaimed its top spot on the “Judicial Hellholes” list maintained by the American Tort Reform Association (ATRA).

“California’s appellate courts are the first to hold e-commerce companies strictly liable for products sold on their sites,” ATRA writes in its 2021-2022 report. “Baseless Prop-65 lawsuits thrive in courts, and the volume of litigation continues to skyrocket.”

The report also points to what it calls “frivolous” Private Attorney General Act (PAGA) and Americans with Disability Act (ADA) lawsuits and says the state’s Lemon Law “provides windfalls for plaintiffs’ lawyers.”

New York State is a close number two, ATRA says, “as the two jurisdictions battle it out for the most ‘no-injury’ class action lawsuits and the most claims under the ADA.” It adds that New York “is a preferred jurisdiction for asbestos litigation and, like California, the legislature ignores the need for reform and continues to push a liability-expanding agenda.”

Georgia has risen to number three on the basis of what ATRA calls the “significant deterioration” of its civil justice system.

“The Georgia Supreme Court eliminated apportionment of fault in certain cases and expanded bad faith liability for insurers,” ATRA says. “It also adopted an expansive view of jurisdiction of its courts over out-of-state businesses. Nuclear verdicts are bogging down business, and third-party litigation financing is playing an increasing role in litigation.”

Pennsylvania fell from number one to number four, but ATRA says this “was in no way a reflection of progress or improvements made in the state, but rather indicative of the number of issues plaguing other jurisdictions.”

ATRA is a Washington, D.C.-based group formed in 1986 and dedicated to tort and liability reform. It has published the Judicial Hellholes report since 2002. 

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