By Amaris Elliott-Engel
Of the Legal Staff
After two years, the American Tort Reform Association, a conservative group that aims to change tort law, took Philadelphia off its "judicial hellholes list" and placed it on its "watch list."
The Legal reported earlier this year that ATRA was planning to have Philadelphia come off its judicial hellholes" list as the Court of Common Pleas sees a dramatic drop in mass tort filings and the administrative judge of the trial division has repeatedly said out-of-state plaintiffs should file their suits elsewhere.
One of the group's main complaints was that the Complex Litigation Center's mass torts program "had become a magnet jurisdiction for lawsuits from across the country." The report was favorable to several changes, implemented in part by Judge John W. Herron, administrative judge of the trial division, such as eliminating reverse bifurcation and limiting consolidation of mass tort cases to asbestos cases.
The group said "while it comes with many caveats and a pledge to keep the white-hot Judicial Hellholes spotlight firmly fixed on the jurisdiction for as long as necessary to prevent back-sliding, it is in the spirit of giving credit where credit is due that this year's report appropriately eases Philadelphia out of the Hellholes rankings and onto the Watch List."
But the group argued that changes to Pennsylvania's venue rules should be applied to personal injury cases as they were applied a decade ago in medical malpractice cases.